James PattersonJames Patterson is in the news again – correction, James Patterson has bought himself a slot in the news again. And he wants you to know he’s a giver. He’s given more on top of what he gave before. He adores your bookstores. And he wants them to love him too.

I know it’s been hard. I know it’s been cruel. I know you’ve counted the long dark empty days without a single James Patterson announcement or photo or headline in your favorite media. I know your newspaper ad pages have been dreary wildernesses without his unforgettable features or peerless words. Fear not, gentle readers. He has smiled on you again.

This time it’s the lucky Brits who’ve been love-bombed with his largesse. And naturally, the Booksellers Association and The Guardian, on their usual anti-Amazon hate tear, have lapped it up with long sloppy wet tongues. “Bestselling author and bookshop devotee, James Patterson, is to donate £250,000 [$424,500] to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland in an unprecedented show of financial support by an individual for the sector,” announces the BA, featuring a 2.24-minute James Patterson video starring James Patterson to spread the word to the Brits. Independent UK bookstores with a turnover below £1 million ($1.7 million) and a dedicated children’s book section can apply for grants of £250-£5,000 ($425-$8500) each.

“What a fantastic way to celebrate the start of this year’s Independent Booksellers Week,”  says Tim Godfray, BA Chief Executive. “This is good news for bookshops and anyone who loves reading. We are delighted that James Patterson is acting on his love of bookshops and his appreciation of their vital importance to cultural and community life.”

Cynical little ol’me for thinking that there’s a smidge of self-promotion about this whole exercise. After all, I don’t see much here about support for struggling authors, self-published or otherwise. And I’m not sure if all that money Patterson lays out comes back to him through higher sales of his books. The name and face of James Patterson certainly seem to bulk very large at all points in this public-spirited gesture. But even if it doesn’t earn him a dime, it’s surely worth it. After all, ego-gratification is beyond price.


  1. Perhaps, as a publishing icon, his ego reqiures little stroking – perhaps his sense of noblesse oblige offends your sensibilities – perhaps he doesn’t need to declare his contribution as much as draw attention to the literacy issue – and perhaps he feels his impact value will be greater if he places it beyond the inevitable slushpile of “budding” authors and concentrate on those in full bloom.

    Or perhaps he’s a self-serving hypocrite.

    You decide…

  2. Iconoclast as I am, when these iconic icons are propped up on the big publishing iconostasis in front of me, I can’t help picking at all that gilt to see if it comes off. And as an author, I’d worry that cheerleading for the price-hiking restrictive-channel trad publishing model is the last way to foster new reading habits. Some buzz around the new horizons in self-publishing just might.

  3. I’ve just been reading of Alan Harrington’s “The Immortalist” which argues man attempts to fulfill a subconscious desire for immortality by achieving fame, and if he can’t “earn” it through success then he’ll try buying it outright. Maybe Patterson is using both methods.

  4. @Paul: The trad pub model is not invalidated by the new models, which are generally less polished by virtue of the ease of process. Trad pub works because it requires that professionals invest in the said product, which the informed consumer is well aware of.

    I’m also an advocate for indie publishing, when the product is polished.

    A positive experience is required to foster reading enthusiasm, which I know you will agree on – the average trad product will, at present, be better polished.

    Perhaps @Wil’s speculation could even be half right (to say JP has not been successful is, well..)

    But I prefer to think well of people until convinced otherwise.

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