James Patterson

Do you love local, independent bookstores? We do too. A whole lot. Know who else does? James Patterson. Yes, THAT James Patterson, the mega-author who is just about always on the New York Times bestseller list with blockbuster hits like Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls. Someone with book sales like his can probably get away with just selling on Amazon or elsewhere, but nope, he loves local indies as much as we do. And – he recently put his money to work for them, handing out 55 grants to bookstores, totaling $267,000. Of these stores, several are located here in New England. To that, we say Hooray! Congratulations! And THANK YOU Mr. Patterson, for supporting our beloved bookstores.

Here are a few more details about the grants from NEIBA (the New England Independent Booksellers Association):

The Bookloft in Great Barrington MA will be using the grant to reinvent their “Bookloft Readers” program. The Bookloft goes out to local schools along with a customer volunteer and reads and acts out children’s books. Typically these are in schools that lack funding to create such programs themselves. Books are also donated to the classrooms and school libraries.

Two Vermont stores received grants. The Norwich Bookstore will be using the grant money to expand their programming for younger children by creating the “SecondSaturday” series in collaboration with the Norwich Public Library. They will host an author or feature a book and offer related activities every month on the secondSaturday, between 1 and 3 pm. They will also launch a middle grade reading/discussion group that will focus on topics and then offer a selection of books on that subject for participants. This allows for multiple ages and reading levels and is a model that has proven incredibly successful in a local school.

Phoenix Books in Essex, explained in a press release, “Phoenix Books’ own grant submission discussed the prospect of expanding on the store’s already successful community outreach program by reaching out to under-served populations, strengthening partnerships with local schools, and establishing staff incentives for literacy-related volunteer work.  Patterson’s reply reads, in part, “it was clear to me that Phoenix Books would be a worthy recipient of the funds.  Very worthy… I hope that this check will allow you to continue doing good work in your store.”

Beth Wagner, Phoenix Books’ children’s book buyer, says, “We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to receive a grant from James Patterson’s $1 million indie bookstore campaign. Like Mr. Patterson, we wholeheartedly believe that developing a love of reading in children is one of most important things we can do. Phoenix Books has always been committed to serving our local schools and libraries, and the generosity of Mr. Patterson will allow us to step up our outreach efforts.”  Co-owner Mike DeSanto adds, “This grant allows Phoenix Books to do something for the community that we would otherwise not have been able to do, and for this we feel grateful and privileged.”

In Northampton MA, Broadside’s Nancy Felton expressed similar gratitude. “We were honored to be chosen to receive a grant and I can’t say enough about James Patterson’s generosity and commitment to literacy, to children and to independent bookstores.  We asked for a relatively modest amount and received all we asked for.  The process was as others described.  We registered and then were asked to submit a short proposal indicating what we would do with the money we requested.  We have really been working on ramping up our social media presence and we requested money to buy equipment to film our events so that we could put them on our website, Facebook, etc.  We’re also hoping to use some of the money to get a sound system for the events.”

Dick Hermans from Oblong Books and Music in Millerton, NY explained that, ” Jim, as we now call him, came into the store in the fall and introduced himself to our staff who commented about how friendly he was. I guess he was happy that we had a few of his books on hand, which he gladly signed. I wasn’t at the store at the time, but two days later I got an email inquiring if we were going to apply for a grant from his Indie program. I quickly wrote about our Millerton store’s biggest needs, a roof repair on our Main Street building and the development of the backyard of our kid’s store into a magic garden. Having been invited to apply, I was pretty sure we would receive a grant and while not surprised when it came, the check made this miserable winter seem less so.”

The Brewster Bookstore received an email from James Patterson right before Thanksgiving outlining the process. They told us: “once we received this email the process was very simple.  We submitted a proposal on how we would use the money, and we heard back in about three weeks that we had made the final round of consideration.  Several weeks after that, we received an envelope from UPS!  We are using the money to purchase equipment and computer software to take to offsite events. We feel incredibly humbled, and it feels so great to know we are appreciated not just by James Patterson, but all of our customers too! We even have a customer who is sending a thank you to James Patterson.”

Congratulations also to our friends at Odyssey Book Shop in South Hadley, MA; Andover Bookstore (Hugo Books) in Andover, MA; Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA; and Wellesley Books of Wellesley, MA.

James Patterson will send out more grants during 2014. Learn more about his program here.