Readers love James Patterson for his thrilling plotlines, clever characters, and seemingly never-ending drive that allows him to publish several best sellers each year. His latest in the vast Alex Cross series, Hope to Die, took fans on a riveting journey, as Cross battled criminal masterminds, undergoing a series of trials and tribulations, in order to save his family. In the YA Maximum Ride series, readers engrossed themselves in the avian-human hybrid world of the flock, which saved the world, among other things. Normal everyday issues of marriage, family, and friendship collide with gritty heroism and fast-paced mystery and in his Women’s Murder Club.
But I love him for what he’s done for independent bookstores.
Back in 2013, Patterson took out full-page ads in The New York Times Book Review, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus, asking readers to consider why, given the bank and auto-industry bailouts, the government wouldn’t bail out the book industry.
In 2014, Patterson put his money where his mouth is. Not waiting for a helping hand from the government, Patterson announced that over the course of the year, he would be giving $1 million of his own money to independent bookstores across the country. All stores had to do was apply and note what they would use the money for.
The bookstores must be viable bookstores with a children’s section (Patterson is also the man behind readkiddoread.com), so sorry, your garage sale doesn’t count. But other than that, stores could decide how to spend the money.
Before cofounding Libro.FM, I worked as an independent publisher for many years. Indie publishing is in my blood, and as a publisher, I have long relied on independent bookstores to place books like Brain Rules into eager hands. But I also understand the sacrifices that go into owning an independent bookstore. Without a big operating budget, upgrades, new programs, or even raises get put off year after year.
None of the grants that James Patterson gave out will fix the publishing industry or save a bookstore from shutting its doors permanently (as I said, the stores must be viable to begin with). But they will have an impact on each store, and that’s important.
Libro.fm supports indie stores around the world. Check out our indie bookseller recommendations, including staff picks from Third Place Books (Seattle), Green Apple Books (San Francisco), and Book Passage (San Francisco). As it happens, all three of those stores received money from Patterson. Book Passage was able to buy a bookmobile, that will enable them to travel to more book fairs. Green Apple renovated their floors.
This year, James Patterson intends to keep supporting independent bookstores. (To recommend a store, visit his page here).
My dream is that we will live in a culture where extra funds aren’t needed to help bookstores distribute great books, curate reading programs, or even keep their roofs up. But I am also a businessman and a pragmatist, so, at least for now, I applaud James Patterson, and keep encouraging my friends and family to shop at their local independent bookstores.
Watch James Patterson discuss his endeavors, along with his romance novel First Love, below.
What’s your favorite indie bookstore? Let us know in the comments. To hear more about James Patterson and similar authors, sign up for our newsletter.