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James Patterson Donates £250,000 to Indy Bookstores in U.K., Ireland

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A few days before IBW 2014 (Independent Booksellers Week) began, American bestselling novelist James Patterson pledged the sum of £250,000 for independent bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland, the B.B.C. reported on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Independent bookshops with a children’s section can apply for grants of between £250 and £5,000.

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This comes on top of his pledge of $1,000,000 (£590,000) in grants for independent American bookshops. In a B.B.C. interview posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, he stated he was in the process of fulfilling this ledge and estimated that so far he had given away “about $600,000.”

In addition, he donated 28,000 copies of his books to schoolchildren in Chicago and in June donated another 45,000 to sixth graders in 300 schools in New York City, the B.B.C. reported on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. According to his Web site, Patterson “has donated a box of books to every school in the Palm Beach County, New York City, Savannah, and Los Angeles Unified School Districts—over 400 schools!” Further, he has donated 200,000 books to soldiers stationed stateside and abroad.

On his Web site, Patterson (or an assistant) writes, “To be considered a store must be viable (meaning they are already and successfully in business) and they must have a children's book section.” Patterson worked with the American Booksellers Association, spoke with his fellow authors and publishers about bookstores, and is also accepting nominations from the general public. He is directly corresponding with booksellers and the money is coming from his personal fortune.

Last year, Patterson ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly in which he asked, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important books?”

The Federal Government has stepped in to save banks, and the automobile industry, but where are they on the important subject of books? Or, if the answer is state and local government, where are they? Is any state doing anything? Why are there no impassioned editorials in newspapers and magazines? Whop will save our books? Our libraries? Our bookstores?

Shortly after the ads appeared in print, he told Daniel D’Addario in a Salon interview, “I do a lot of things to try to raise level of awareness of what’s going on in country right now. This is an unusual and different time for books, the most unusual in the history of this country. E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequences of having many fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business — possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.”

A lot of it had to do with getting kids reading. I have a site for school librarians, teachers, and kids to go to — readkiddoread.com. It’s a fairly big site: it does a fair amount of good. And I will have 400 scholarships for teachers at 21 universities this year. I’m giving 300,000 books.

I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now.

I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure there are things that can be done. There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business. We haven’t gotten into laws that should or shouldn’t be done in terms of the internet. I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.

The press doesn’t deal with the effects of e-books as a story. Borders closing down is treated as a business story…

Best known for his thrillers featuring forensic psychologist Alex Cross – played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001) and Tyler Perry in Alex Cross (2012), Patterson also writes books for children. He also played himself as a guest star in one episode each of Seasons 1 & 2 of Castle as one of the eponymous hero’s poker buddies.

Patterson has written or co-written 110 novels. He has sold over 300,000,000 books worldwide.

Patterson is so prodigious in part because he works with a number of co-authors. For example, Cate Tiernan, under the pen name Gabrielle Charbonnet, co-wrote two young adult novels with Patterson: Sundays at Tiffany’s, published in 2008, and Witch & Wizard, published in 2009.

His first collaborator was Peter de Jonge. At the time they met, de Jonge was a copywriter at the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson, of which Patterson was chairman, and freelance magazine contributor.

The two men also played golf together. They have differing recollections about the circumstances under which Patterson suggested the collaboration to de Jonge, as Charles McGrath explained in The New York Times when de Jonge published his first book without Patterson’s guidance, Shadows Still Remain.

Patterson gave de Jonge the outlines for three novels that de Jonge fleshed out. The first of these was a one-off novel Miracle on the 17th Green, while the second and third books were the mysteries that are more in keeping with the bulk of Patterson’s oeuvre, The Beach House and Beach Road.

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