The book trade blog Shelf Awareness reports that the prolific novelist, who's known for not exactly writing the many books he writes, just gave no-strings-attached cash to booksellers across the country. The awards range from $1,000—$5,000.
In partnership with the American Booksellers Association, Patterson asked members of reading communities across the country to nominate their favorite bookseller by writing in 250 words or less how the bookseller makes a difference in the lives of the local readership. According to Shelf Awareness, Patterson sifted through all 2,848 nominations and chose the winners himself.
"I was totally surprised," Allman told me this afternoon. "I've never gotten any of these scholarships or grants, and I have no idea who nominated me."
Allman said she felt really gratified. She loves what she does and she loves Elliott Bay Book Company, and she's especially grateful that Patterson is recognizing the role that booksellers play in their communities. "We put books in the hands of the people who love them," she said.
I thought that Patterson only sold well in airports and on Amazon.com, but Allman says they sell plenty of Patterson at Elliott Bay: "We sell quite a few of the children's books and the adult books—maybe not to the degree that he's sold in some of the chains—but from the beginning of his career we've been carrying his books."
Rich Harriman of Third Place Books was also happy to disabuse me of my preconceptions regarding the market for Patterson's books. "We sell a lot of Patterson" he said. "He’s got that Maximum Ride series, which is a great series." He added that one of the first things he did after winning the money was buy a copy of Along Came a Spider to read immediately.
Neither Harriman nor Allman would say how much they won, but Harriman said he and Patti plan to use the money to visit family in California and Maine. Last year, they couldn't swing a plane ticket to fly out to Maine to see his mother on her 80th birthday, but, thanks to Patterson, that'll be possible this year. "Growing up, [my mother] was a librarian for Salmon Falls Public library. My son is an avid reader. So this boost will bring together three generations of readers and give us some breathing room on bills," he said.
Allman said she was too surprised to think about how she'll spend the moolah.
These surprise bonuses aren't the only bit of money that Patterson's given to Seattle's many literary outlets. Last year, as part of his Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives program, the writer doled out some cash to Elliott Bay in order to improve their children's books section. And back in 2007, the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library scored $100,000 as part of the James Patterson Page Turner Awards.