On Thursday, June 27, author James Patterson appeared at the 2019 ABC Children’s Institute to accept a plaque from the American Booksellers Association on behalf of independent bookstore members.
At the start of the Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunch, ABA CEO Oren Teicher joined Patterson on stage to deliver him a commemorative glass book that reads, “Presented to James Patterson with deep appreciation for his commitment to enriching the lives of young people through reading and books and for your generous extraordinary support for independent bookstores and booksellers.”
“Most of you in this room know that for the past several years indie bookstores in the United States have benefitted from the largesse of one individual who has quite literally put his money where his mouth is,” said Teicher. “Since 2014, James Patterson has contributed $2.35 million to indie bookstores and indie booksellers.”
“I’m an agent of change,” said Patterson. “I don’t talk about stuff, I don’t want people to listen — I want to change stuff, and I’m hoping that you all are going to change stuff over the course of this conference.”
He recognized the need for children to have encouragement to read, which is the goal of titles published through his JIMMY Patterson imprint at Hachette Book Group. “When a kid finishes a JIMMY book,” said Patterson, the hope is “they’ll say, ‘Please give me another book,’ as opposed to, ‘I don’t like to read.’”
Patterson also acknowledged his efforts to support teachers and classroom libraries, including a new program that will assist with debt forgiveness after graduation for students who are studying education at the University of Wisconsin.
“I am here to save lives and to remind you that that’s what you guys do,” Patterson concluded. “Sometimes you don’t get the credit for it.”
During Patterson’s speech, Avery Peregrine from Third Place Books in Seattle spoke up to point out that it’s unfortunate that booksellers are having to rely on people like Patterson to be able to afford basic needs like health care and rent. “We’re so proud to be booksellers and I’m so proud to be in this industry,” said Peregrine, “but I want it to be sustainable…I want to change the system that is causing us to have to go to your funds to pay for our medical bills.”
Patterson’s 2019 Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program is underway now. Patterson announced in May that he would pledge a personal contribution of $250,000 to independent bookstore employees, which will be granted in amounts of $500 to 500 individual booksellers. New this year, 100 of the bonuses will be set aside for children's booksellers. This year’s campaign is open to all U.S. independent bookstore employees through October 12.
Bookstore employees, publishing professionals, authors, and bookstore shoppers can all submit bonus nominations on behalf of any current indie bookstore employer of an ABA member store. In all cases, the vetting process will include obtaining approval from the bookstore employee and store in question to confirm current employment.
All past recipients of Patterson grants are eligible, and booksellers can self-nominate. Bonuses will be distributed in December 2019.
The grant application asks one simple question: “Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?” Patterson will select winners from bookstores all across the country to receive bonuses this holiday season.