One of the world's best-selling writers is putting his money where his mouth is, to the delight of a pair of Minnesota book stores that will benefit from his generosity.
The New York Times reported that James Patterson, the prolific author of the Alex Cross detective books, young-adult fiction, nonfiction and even romance novels, plans to give away $1 million to 55 independent bookstores across the country.
The Pioneer Press reports that the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul and the Wild Rumpus children's bookstore in Minneapolis are among stores included in the first round of grants, which range from $2,000 to $15,000. The amount the two local stores received was not disclosed.
NPR News noted that Patterson is targeting smaller bookstores, which have struggled to survive as they face competition from discounters, online competitors like Amazon and e-books. Publisher's Weekly, which had a list of the bookstores that received grants from Patterson, explained that the writer established a place on his website where shops could apply for grants. The site also allows readers to nominate their favorite stores.
Patterson also reached out to fellow authors for their recommendation on stores that might not have applied but could benefit from a cash influx. One of them was Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo, who recently won her second Newberry Medal for children's literature. Holly Weinkauf, the owner of the Red Balloon, speculated that DiCamillo may have put in a good word with Patterson.
"On Wednesday, a special package came in the mail with the check, along with a lovely, encouraging letter from Mr. Patterson about how important the work is we are doing," she told the newspaper. "It's nice to hear those words, to be acknowledged. He said an author he respected highlighted the Red Balloon."
Patterson placed no restrictions on how his grants can be used.
"The money and validation of what we do is nice," Weinkauf said, "but I also appreciate Mr. Patterson's effort to bring the public's attention to the current challenging business climate for independent bookstores and how vital we are to our communities."
“I’m rich; I don’t need to sell more books,” Patterson, 66, told the Times. “People just need to go into bookstores more. It’s not top of mind as much as it used to be.”
Patterson has also established a program that gives thousands of dollars for books to college students.