James Patterson, the writer best known for his Alex Cross series, donated a total of $250,000 in grants to bookstores all over the country through his annual Holiday Bookseller Bonus Program. The program is administered by Patterson and the American Booksellers Association, a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to independent bookstores.
The program was created to award gifts of $500 to employees at current ABA member stores, according to a description. Included among this year’s winners are Mary Ferris of the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley; Eowyn Randall of Riverstone Books, which has locations in Squirrel Hill and McCandless; Lesley Rains of the City of Asylum Bookstore in the North Side; and Lea Bickerton of The Tiny Bookstore in the North Hills.
Winners could self-nominate, or be nominated by customers, publishing professionals, authors, or by fellow employees or management.
While Patterson is known for his thrillers, he has branched out into other genres, including children’s books. Because of this, the Holiday Bookseller Bonus Program has, in the past, emphasized awarding booksellers who serve young readers.
Patterson has taken a step back from writing full-time, now running what’s been dubbed a book “factory,” using his name and, in the case of some oddly endearing television ads, his face to promote scads of titles by other writers (there’s even one by country idol Dolly Parton). He has also worked to promote literacy and to support indie bookstores, especially during the pandemic when many brick-and-mortar shops have closed during shutdowns.
In a video on the ABA website, Bickerton said the grant was “very generous” and “very greatly appreciated,” adding that she plans on using the funds to expand the store’s lifelong learning program.