On Thursday, Patterson sounded off to Salon about why he believed independent bookstores were so important.
“As we go through this transition where a lot more people will be reading on devices, nobody is paying enough attention to make sure it’s a smooth transition. I believe we still need places where people can go to handle, hold and talk about books, get information about what books are out there, and so on. At least at the moment,” he said.
“In a lot of European countries, books are protected. We have the government stepping in when we have a bank crisis — Oh my god, the banks! Well: Oh my god, the books, the schools! I’m sorry, but I think that’s important,” he added.
Patterson feels that there are “so many ways” where he could help, although he does plan to make sure that the store is “viable” before he steps in.
The 66-year-old author is also concerned about children’s literacy.
“We have a nation where kids are reading less and less. On one level, there are kids who are quite bright and are going to go to good schools anyway, but they’re not reading as much as people used to. So their thinking is not as broad as you’d like it to be,” he said.
“But most important are the millions of kids in this country who are not going to be competent readers by the time they get through school, which in some cases will be no further than 9th or 10th grade.”
Patterson also showed his disgust with comments Justin Bieber made last year, when he said he wasn’t really into “stuff” like “writing and reading.”
“Give me a break, Justin. Wake the hell up,” Patterson replied. “For most kids, who aren’t as lucky as you are, if they can’t read it’s going to be a big problem. It’s going to be a problem in high school and it’s going to be a problem afterward. They’re not going to get into college, and they’re going to have trouble getting jobs.”
Patterson concluded with the thought that this country “right now, needs bookstores. This country needs readers. It needs people opening their minds up. It needs people capable of going to higher education and succeeding. This country needs people who can look at the world in different ways, have a broader perspective on things and be more compassionate.”
“That concerns me and I’m in a position to nudge people and to help the discussion get going. I’d like to see some people in the government stepping up, to say: Books are important. Publishers are important. Bookstores are important. Libraries are important. Unfortunately, that’s not happening,” he finished.