Author James Patterson may not be thought of as a literary titan, but the success of his work in the widely read Alex Cross series and others has allowed him to undertake an extraordinary act of generosity that has the potential to foster the development of great authors for years to come. As part of a $1 million program to support independent bookstores, Patterson's making a $5,000 donation to Houston's Brazos Bookstore to assist the independent shop's efforts to participate in children's book fairs around the city.
"The future of books in America is at risk,” Patterson told Publishers Weekly. “Bookstore traffic is down. Kids aren’t reading as many books. I want to really shine a light and draw attention to the fact that this is a tricky time. The government will protect the automobile industry and the banking industry, but not books.”
"We're still sorting (the specifics) out now," manager Jeremy Ellis tells CultureMap about how Brazos will spend the money. "I didn't have a feeling one way or the other about receiving a donation. I'm just glad that we got one."
Ellis anticipates that the bookstore's program will debut in the fall.
While the bookstore only carries Patterson's children's books, that doesn't reflect any snobbery on Brazos's part. "Murder by the Book is one of the best mystery bookstores in the country. We let them have that market."
Overall, 54 bookstores around the country, including BookPeople in Austin, received between $2,000 and $15,000 as part of the program. Patterson reviewed each application himself.
Anyone interested in nominating an independent bookstore to receive money from the next round of grants can do so via Patterson's website.