Nominations Sought for Awards Honoring Champions of Books and Reading

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James Patterson, the bestselling author whose suspense novels have been described as keep-you-up-all-night page-turners, is once again awarding cash prizes to booksellers, educators, festival organizers, philanthropic groups, and others, who find effective ways to spread the excitement of books and promote reading.

As he first did in 2005, Patterson will give the 2006 James Patterson PageTurner Awards to various individuals and groups who "get people of all ages excited about books and reading, and successfully transform non-readers into lifelong page-turners."

This year, however, Patterson has dramatically increased the cash prize for each award. A total of $500,000 in cash prizes will be distributed among 44 winners: two awards of $100,000, two awards of $50,000, and 40 awards of $5,000 each. One of the $100,000 PageTurner of the Year Awards is open to any individual, group, or organization that spreads the joy and excitement of reading in a unique and exciting way. The second $100,000 award -- the PageTurner School of the Year Award -- is earmarked for an educational institution that best instills the importance and joy of reading in its students. Both awards will be dispersed over five years, with $20,000 given each year. The winning school will also receive a visit from Patterson, who will read, sign, and talk about books.

The two $50,000 PageTurner Par Excellence Awards will go to individuals, schools, organizations, groups, or companies that successfully encourage the excitement of books and reading. Each winner will receive $10,000 annually over five years.

Forty PageTurner Champion Awards of $5,000 each will be presented to those who demonstrate a notable contribution to the cause of making reading fun and enjoyable.

Anyone may nominate themselves or another candidate through an electronic form on the PageTurner website, by October 16. The winners will be announced before the end of November.

Two independent booksellers were among last year's winners of PageTurner Awards of $1,000: Nancy Quinn of Harry W. Schwartz in Milwaukee for her work in securing approximately 250 author visits a year, as well as creating unique events, partnering with local businesses, and reaching out to the community; and Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, in Blytheville, Arkansas, who was recognized for her "ceaseless enthusiasm about books and reading [that] has created a thriving book community in a relatively poor state with a low literacy rate."

The winner of last year's highest cash awards, $25,000 each, were Litquake, an annual literary festival that actively involves the entire San Francisco population, and the Dallas County Community Colleges in Dallas, Texas, for the creation and maintenance of an annual citywide "African American Read-In." The Read-In, which encompasses all of the community's schools, beginning with the elementary grades, is a free program that has provided books, book bags, bookmarks, readers, and reading opportunities to more than 100,000 children and adults since its inception.

In honor of the two $100,000 winners, this year First Book, a national nonprofit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books, will donate 1,000 books to programs serving disadvantaged children in cities chosen by the winners. --Nomi Schwartz