Author donates $500K to independent bookstores endangered by virus

  • James Patterson signs copies of his new book, co-written with Bill Clinton, “The President Is Missing” at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on June 5, 2018 in New York City. Patterson is donating $500,000 to help independent bookstores endangered by coronavirus. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

In an effort to keep struggling bookstores afloat, author James Patterson is offering some relief in the form of a hefty sum of money.

The bestselling writer of “Along Came a Spider” and “NYPD Red” announced on Thursday a personal donation of $500,000 to help save independent bookstores across the country. Many have been forced to shut their doors indefinitely or drastically change their business models to comply with measures imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Patterson also partnered with Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon and her platform, Reese’s Book Club, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and the American Booksellers Assn. to promote the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, which will run through April 30. Binc will then distribute the funds raised to eligible independent bookstores.

“I can’t imagine anything more important right now, in terms of the book world, than helping indies survive,” Patterson said on a phone call Thursday morning. “It’s just so important culturally that we’re paying attention to the written word, that people are communicating with the written word,” he said, adding that teaching children to read competently is a high social priority. By combining forces with Witherspoon, he hopes the initiative will spread widely.

Patterson’s donation is the latest of several large outlays he’s made in recent years, including a $1-million gift in 2014. It’s also one of several valiant efforts nationwide to help ensure that indie bookstores — which are not considered essential businesses — survive the pandemic. Many of those that have stayed open are offering curbside pickup, in-store private browsing appointments and deliveries and mainly taking orders by phone and online.


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