The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

James Patterson

Between 2014 and 2016, American crime author James Patterson donated over £500,000 to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland, following his offer to donate $1 million to indie bookstores in the US in 2013. Patterson wanted the money to be used to encourage children to read and only bookshops with a dedicated children's book section were eligible to apply for the grant between £250 and £5,000. 

First announced during Independent Bookshop Week 2014, the grants have helped over 250 independent bookshops expand or launch new projects, rennovations and storytelling corners to help boost reading. 

The projects range hugely in scale, but all stand as testament to the impact of a James Patterson grant. A few themes emerged:
  • OutreachChicken & Frog launched a kids lit festival, Lindum Books worked with a local theatre company to run storytelling sessions, and Bookends in Keswick ran a football event for reluctant boy readers
Children’s Department revamp – looking at your shop space with fresh eyes and a lovely cheque in hand, encouraged many shops to shake up their kids department with a redesign – from the Red Lion in Colchester who commissioned a new logo and beautiful mural for the kids section, to Far from the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow who created a Hagrid’s Hut out of their stockroom.  Some, like Forum Kids in Corbridge, took the revamp outdoors, creating bookshop gardens.
Transport emerged as a theme for many – taking books out into the community, breaking down barriers, especially for those in rural areas.  I am biased here as we were thrilled at Mainstreet to use our grant to help us create a mobile bookshop out of an ex-fire engine Citroen H Van – introducing school children to both authors and bookshops, some of whom are unlikely to encounter either by any other means.  Unicorn Tree Books in Lincoln invested in a very special Bike for mobile bookselling and Book’ish in Crickhowell converted a camper van into a mobile bookshop.
Bookcase Hebden  Mainstreet Trading
                                                 The Bookcase, Hebden Bridge                                                             The Mainstreet Trading Company, St. Boswells 
Rosamund de la Hey, President of The Booksellers Association, says: “I think it’s fair to say that no author has done more to support the cause of independent booksellers than James Patterson. James’ support and faith in us goes way beyond the financial.  He has given us the courage to try new ideas, to drive sales and put books into the hands of our favourite customers, children, in ever greater numbers. There is a wonderful collaborative spirit between indie booksellers.  James’ huge generosity tapped into this and gave us the energy, courage and confidence to get these many and various projects off the ground  and to help us shout ever louder about how much we love children’s books.”
James Patterson says: “I have been completely overwhelmed by just how many independent bookshops have applied for grants again this year, and yet again have been impressed and enthused by the creativity of booksellers. I am extremely proud and honoured to accept the Outstanding Contribution to the Book Industry Award.”