James Patterson sets up fund to help indie booksellers

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James Patterson

FILE – In this Aug. 30, 2016, file photo, author James Patterson poses for a portrait in New York. Patterson announced #SaveIndieBookstores, a partnership with the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. He is contributing $500,000 and is urging others to contribute this month. Patterson has a history of helping independent bookstores. The best-selling novelist has donated millions in recent years to booksellers. He’s also given millions to schools and libraries and literacy programs.(Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — James Patterson has a history of helping independent bookstores.

The best-selling novelist has donated millions in recent years to booksellers, while also giving millions to schools and libraries and literacy programs. Now, with stores closed or closing nationwide because of the coronavirus outbreak, Patterson has launched a new initiative.

On Thursday, he announced #SaveIndieBookstores, a partnership with the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Reese Witherspoon, who has gained a wide following among readers through her book club picks, posted a video on Instagram in support of Patterson’s efforts.

Patterson is contributing $500,000 and is urging others to contribute this month.

“I’m concerned about the survival of independent bookstores, which are at the heart of main streets across the country,” Patterson said. “I believe that books are essential. They make us kinder, more empathetic human beings. And they have the power to take us away — even momentarily — from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared.”

ABA member bookstores have from April 10-27 to apply for a grant on SaveIndieBookstores.com. Parameters haven’t been set yet for the biggest and smallest donations, and will depend on how much money is raised. Funds are expected to be distributed by May 15.

“This support for independent bookstores is incredibly generous,” ABA CEO Allison K Hill said in a statement. “It is especially meaningful to have this support from people who recognize the cultural contributions of independent bookstores, and who appreciate the vital role that independent bookstores play in connecting readers to books, and in creating community.”

On Thursday, NPD BookScan reported the second significant drop in sales in the past three weeks. According to BookScan, which tracks around 85 percent of the print market, sales fell 9 percent from the week before, when the numbers were relatively stable.

Independent bookstores have enjoyed a resurgence over the past decade, but many have thin or nonexistent profits. Some stores already have started GoFundMe drives, including Posman Books, which has closed its businesses in New York and Atlanta and laid off its workers. As of late Wednesday, it raised around $2,700 out of a goal of $4,000, with author Colson Whitehead among the contributors.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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