James Patterson announces gifts to booksellers, libraries

NEW YORK -- The beneficiaries include a manager at the Brazos Bookstore in Houston with a passion for works in translation and a community school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, dedicated to reaching as many readers as possible.

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They are part of James Patterson's US$2 million holiday gift program, with grants and bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to schools and libraries and independent bookstores and coordinated with the Scholastic Reading Club and the trade group the American Booksellers Association. Patterson announced Tuesday that 340 libraries and 87 independent bookstore employees had received money.

"Once again, we are enormously grateful for James Patterson's wonderful generosity," Oren Teicher, CEO of the booksellers association, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Nobody puts their money where their mouth is more than Jim. Providing extra financial support to individuals who spend their entire day putting books into the hands of customers and spreading the joy of reading is an extraordinary gesture."

Over the past few years, the best-selling author has proved as prolific at philanthropy as he had been at turning out novels. Patterson, who routinely publishes multiple works in a given year, has launched initiatives ranging from library aid and book donations to his own children's book imprint at Little, Brown and Co. In November, Patterson was given an honorary National Book Award for his contributions to the literary community.

"I'm just trying to draw attention to books, and draw attention to bookstores and to libraries," Patterson told the AP in a recent phone interview. "The amount of attention given to movies is astounding and to some extent books and bookstores and libraries need to compete."

In a statement, Patterson said the grants and bonuses are his "humble acknowledgment of some of the terrific work taking place in libraries and bookstores."

"Here's to communities supporting their bookstores and libraries. Here's to a country that makes reading a priority. Here's to flourishing libraries and booksellers, and to a joyful holiday season!" the statement said.

Patterson looked through thousands of applications, with those he approved including a $6,000 grant to Pittsfield's Conte Community School, which promised to "spend every penny on brand new, sparkling books," ignoring "no genre, no reading level, no section of the library." Another submission came from an employee at the Brazos store in Houston, urging a bonus for store manager Mark Haber.

"His excitement for books in translation is so well-known around the store," the application reads, that "it's only halfway a store in-joke that his enthusiasm has created a 'Cult of Mark' (or sometimes 'Haberclique'), because there's a steady group of regulars who will essentially buy anything" that Haber recommends.

Haber's reward: a $5,000 bonus.

"I can only say that I love books and live for literature," Haber wrote in an email to the AP. "Introducing great works to readers is a joy and a privilege. In Houston, at Brazos Bookstore, you'd never know there was an Amazon.com or a decline in reading traditional books. Books are alive and well in this city."


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