James Patterson donating £250,000 to British and Irish bookshops

Following a similar act of philanthropy in the US last year, hyperbestseller James Patterson is set to donate £250,000 to independent booksellers across Britain and Ireland in a bid to ensure no children have to live lives without books. Patterson’s pledge coincides with the beginning of Independent Booksellers Week, which starts this coming Saturday. The awards scheme is open to any independent bookshop featuring a dedicated children’s section whose annual turnover is under £1 million. Grants will be awarded ranging from £250 to £5,000 (which, for the maths-impaired, means somewhere between 50 and 1,000 bookshops stand to benefit).

In a video and letter to booksellers, Patterson says: ‘I believe we’re at a pivotal moment in our history, when far too many children – the future stewards of our society – are at risk of living lives without books. To my mind, this translates to a risk of living in a world run by the shortsighted, by the empathy-challenged, and by the glib. It is as grave a peril as I can imagine.’ Describing bookshops as ‘our most viable bulwark’ against that risk, he goes on to say that pledging the money ‘was the easy part’, and he is now looking for ‘stores that are already making a difference in their communities, but that could use some help to do even better.’ Interested parties are asked to write a short explanation (under 500 words) of how they would use the money and submit it to james.patterson@booksellers.org.uk

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, says of Patterson’s donation: ‘What a fantastic way to celebrate the start of this year’s Independent Booksellers Week. 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. His generous donation will give our bookshops a chance to create new programmes, try out new ideas, and use their creativity to encourage children to read. I know our members will relish the opportunity!’

Grant application forms are available here.