American author James Patterson has pledged to donate £250,000 to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland.
The author’s gift comes two days before the start of Independent Bookseller’s Week (28th June-5th July) and follows his offer to donate $1m to indies in the US last September.
The writer of the Alex Cross series wants the money to be used to encourage children to read and only bookshops with a dedicated children’s book section can apply for a grant of between £250 and £5,000.
Patterson said: “Far too many children are in danger of living their lives without books. This runs the risk of living in a world run by the shortsighted, by the empathy-challenged, and by the glib. Bookshops are the most viable bulwark against this and I need to be part of the fight to ensure their survival.”
Patterson’s pledge in the US have contributed towards projects such as customising a school bus as a mobile bookshop to providing free books for underprivileged children.
“In the US, I have worked to identify independent bookshops for whom this money may make a difference, and bookshops that were already doing good work," he said. "I have been inspired, moved and delighted by the innovative proposals I have received over the last year. I can’t wait to get started and see what the UK and Ireland’s incredible and pioneering bookshops propose.”
The financial awards will be made to bookshops on the basis of the “strength and innovatory nature” of the proposal submitted. Patterson is particularly interested in funding schemes that will encourage children to read.
Eligible bookshops will be sent a grant application form by the Booksellers Assocation, which they should complete and return to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found on the website. The scheme will be backed on Twitter with the hashtag #JPlovesbookshops.
The names of the first bookshops to have made successful bids will be announced in September 2014, as part of the Autumn’s Books Are My Bag campaign.
Tim Godfray, chief executive of The Booksellers Association, said: “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.”