James Patterson Is Giving $300K in Holiday Bonuses to Indy Booksellers

The bestselling author has for years given out holiday bonuses to support independent bookstores across the U.S.

Man sits on leather couch in room
The bestselling author is a vocal supporter of independent booksellers. Chris Sorensen for The Washington Post via Getty Images

One of the world’s most prolific writers is getting into the holiday spirit. James Patterson, the author behind countless bestselling thrillers, mystery novels and romance titles, is sharing the wealth with independent booksellers across the U.S.

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Patterson is awarding $500 holiday bonuses to 600 independent bookstore workers at shops in the American Booksellers Association (an independent bookstore trade association) as part of a holiday initiative he started nearly 10 years ago. “I’ve said this before, but I can’t say it enough—booksellers save lives,” said the author in a statement. “What they do is crucial, especially right now. I’m happy to be able to acknowledge them and their hard work this holiday season.”

The recipients live all over the U.S. and include employees at Babycake’s Book Stack in St. Paul, Minnesota and Plott Hound Books in Burnsville, North Carolina. To receive one of Patterson’s annual bonuses, independent booksellers can either nominate themselves or be put forward by coworkers and peers.

“It was quite a nice surprise,” Daphne Spain, owner of 2nd Act Books in Charlottesville, Virginia, told Observer. One of this year’s bonus recipients, Spain was nominated by her store manager and is planning to use the cash to acquire a selection of new titles and fund events for local authors. “I think any established author who endorses bookstores is doing a huge favor to independent sellers,” she said. “It’s always good to see a writer investing in the book industry.”

The bonuses don’t just benefit individual booksellers but also help draw attention to the struggles of independent brick-and-mortar stores, which were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and must now compete with e-commerce behemoths like Amazon (AMZN). “It recognizes the hard work that goes into either owning or working in an independent bookstore,” Jeri Kay Thomas, owner of 2 Dandelions Bookshop in Brighton, Michigan and another of Patterson’s bonus recipients, told Observer.

James Patterson’s literary-minded philanthropy

In addition to churning out new titles at lightning speed, Patterson, who has sold more than 400 million copies over his 47-year career, has taken various steps to support the literary industry. He’s donated more than 2 million books to students and U.S. soldiers while establishing more than 400 Teacher and Writer Education Scholarships at colleges and universities across the nation.

In 2022, the author’s total giving to literary-minded causes hit the $100 million mark after he gifted $5.3 million to entities like PEN America, the Scholastic Book Club, Howard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Patterson has also established programs focused on reinvigorating reading—in 2016, he launched BookShots, a line of short and plot-driven novels priced at under $5 in an attempt to draw in new readers.

Much of the author’s efforts have centered on the independent bookselling industry. In 2014, he promised to donate $1 million to dozens of bookstores across the nation. “I just want to get people more aware and involved in what’s going on here, which is that, with the advent of e-books, we either have a great opportunity or a great problem,” he told The New York Times. “Our bookstores in America are at stake. Publishing and publishers as we know them are at stake. To some extent the future of American literature is at stake.”

Patterson also rallied for independent booksellers during the pandemic, launching a #SaveIndieBookstores campaign and donating $500,000 to the cause. “We all continue to be awed by, and grateful for, Mr. Patterson’s continued support of independent booksellers,” said Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, in a statement.

James Patterson Is Giving $300K in Holiday Bonuses to Indy Booksellers