For the past five years, the American Booksellers Association has run a holiday bonus program for independent booksellers. It’s backed by James Patterson, a major author and philanthropist.
A lot of readers are fans of the novelist James Patterson—and independent booksellers have plenty of reasons to be huge fans as well.
And not just because he sells a lot of books.
That’s because Patterson, who also is a philanthropist, has made a point of frequently giving gifts to independent booksellers through an annual program he runs with the American Booksellers Association (ABA). For this year’s Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program, Patterson handed out $250,000 to deserving booksellers around the country—$500 gifts to 500 employees who go above and beyond.
This year alone, the program drew more than 2,500 nominees with a simple question: “Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?” Their friends and colleagues answered the call, and based on that information, Patterson and ABA gave them a bonus just in time for the holidays.
As he noted in a statement to the Associated Press, he put a specific lean on children’s booksellers for the bonuses (they received a fifth of the donations handed out), but noted that booksellers in general play an important cultural role.
“I’ve said this many times before, but I can’t say it enough: booksellers save lives,” Patterson said. “Children’s booksellers especially—they guide children to books they’ll genuinely enjoy and in turn create a new generation of readers. I’m happy to be able to acknowledge them and the important work they do in any way that I can this holiday season.”
Patterson is well-known as a donor to literary causes. With a net worth of $560 million according to Inside Philanthropy, the author (who has sold more than 300 million books over a more than four-decade career) has frequently focused on issues of literacy in his donations, including at bookstores. Beyond the bonus program, which has donated as much as $1 million to booksellers during different holiday seasons, Patterson has donated millions of dollars to the bookstore industry.
“For five years, James Patterson has demonstrated again and again just how strong his support is for the independent booksellers who introduce readers of all ages to the authors and titles that are most likely to spark and deepen their joy of reading,” ABA CEO Oren Teicher said in a statement earlier this year.