Independent booksellers’ plans to use the money donated to them by US author James Patterson range from creating a “Dangerous Reading Club” to running a book review website for children.
Patterson pledged to donate £250,000 to UK and Irish independent booksellers who could show that they would use the money to encourage children to read. To date, more than £130,000 of the total figure has been split between 73 UK businesses, who are beginning to receive their cheques. Helen Stanton, from Forum Books in Corbridge, said she would use some of the £2,500 she pitched for and won to create a “Dangerous Reading Club” for children. Stanton said she wanted to set up the club because “we are not a school, so we can do things which have naughty things like burps and farts in them.”
She added: “The club will reach out to the demographic that we all know read the least—boys. The money will buy some books we can use in the club and help with designs to launch it.” Stanton also wants to create a reading “amphitheatre” in a garden space at the back of Forum Books’ new children’s branch, Forum Kids Bookshop, which opened in May 2014. “We want the bookshop to be a place where children are happy to hang out, and an attractive outdoor space will really help,” she said.
Gill Edwards, owner of Little Ripon Bookshop in North Yorkshire, is using her funding to pay for “new children’s display units, so we can wheel them out at storytime. At the moment we just have Ikea furniture. It sounds simple but it will make a huge difference to the shop, and it is something we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.”
Peter Snell, owner of Barton’s Bookshop in Leatherhead, will use the £600 of funding to expand the children’s section in his bookshop, by installing more bookcases and buying large posters to advertise the children’s reading club. “We are going to put a large version of the cheque in a frame and rename the section the James Patterson Children’s Corner,” Snell said.
Meanwhile, Wallingford Bookshop in Oxfordshire, which won a £900 grant, will use the money to design a website for the shop which will allow children to post reviews of books they have read.
Owner Alison Jinck said: “I think the initiative is absolutely brilliant. It is so heartening that [Patterson, who] is such a big author, appreciates indies, considering we are not really his target selling audience anymore. It is also nice to have some really positive news for the independent sector after constant negativity and the revelation there are fewer than 1,000 of us now.”