Imagine you’re the owner of an independent bookstore, and you receive a check from the New York Times–bestselling author James Patterson a few weeks before Christmas. Francine Lucidon, owner of The Voracious Reader in Larchmont, NY, didn’t have to imagine. Her store is one of the 81 bookstores that received $473,000 in Patterson’s grants to benefit independent bookstores, according to the Associated Press (AP) on December 15.
The donation is the third and last part of an overall financial pledge Patterson made public during an interview with the Wall Street Journal (which ran on September 2, 2013) to give away $1 million to independent bookstores with dedicated children’s sections over the course of a year.
“We’re thrilled,” says Lucidon. “All the indies are thrilled that James Patterson is doing this. It’s step in the right direction… a good thing to do if you have the money.”
Her bookstore, open for now eight years, is primarily for children but also carries adult books. It is a “hub for community, books, and ideas,” Lucidon says. “Bookstores create real life experience, which people are starving for.”
Along with selling books, The Voracious Reader hosts Teen Night, along with an evening for middle-grade readers during which advanced copies are distributed, and weekly storytimes. On Fridays, tells Lucidon, Franklin, a King Charles spaniel, visits the store.
“Children come in to see [Franklin]. We also have a tea shop attached,” she continues. “We want going to the bookstore [to] be an event itself.”
To date, 178 independent bookstores, such as Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, NY, and Book Soup in Los Angeles, CA, have received funds. (The grant application process is now closed.) One well-known grant recipient, the Strand Book Store, in New York City, will use its grant money “to sponsor field trips that will bring in students from low income neighborhoods,” according to the AP. A list of recipients is available on the James Patterson official website.
According to Lucidon, one of the things she will be doing with the funds is to build up a new section in the store called Book Baby, for ages 0–3, which she said was inspired by the American Academy of Pediatrics’s announcement this past June about the importance of reading aloud to children from birth.
“This [Book Baby] section is devoted to families getting started in creating and defining themselves as book families,” she says.
In a December 15 press statement, Patterson issued a cheerful holiday message:
“Here’s to a joyful holiday season for booksellers everywhere… Here’s to local governments waking up to the fact that bookstores and libraries are essential to our way of life. Here’s to media coverage of books, booksellers, and publishers, and to a wiser, more literate America. Happy holidays to one and all!”