San Diego Bookstores Receive Grants From Best-Selling Author James Patterson
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. He is the best-selling author in America and he loves independent bookstores. That was those two factors go along way to explain why James Patterson is giving away $1 million to bookstores across the nation. Now to San Diego bookstores aren't the joint and are enjoying part of the generosity. Mysterious Galaxy is getting a check from Patterson as is the Yellow Book Road store in Liberty Station. In announcing the giveaway James Patterson said the books in it stores in America aren't risks and the future at the future of American literature is also at stake. We'll talk more about bookstores with my guests Ann Diener and Terry Gilman, welcome to the program. How did you find out that your store was among those getting checks from James Patterson? TERRY GILMAN: I had an indication the week before last with a asked me for my federal ID number but they did not promise be anything and then a week later our store in Redondo Beach actually received a check. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see, and how did you find out? ANN DIENER: Came totally out of the blue, we just got a phone call from publishers telling us that some author had recommended us for the grant and we received it. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It has been reported the grants range from about $2000-$15,000, would you feel comfortable sharing how much your store got? ANN DIENER: We aren't telling the exact amount though it is not that the 15,000 mark. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Terry? TERRY GILMAN: Actually, I don't mind, I asked for 5400 and we received 6000. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so that's how you got this grant, you actually contacted James Patterson. Did you write a letter? TERRY GILMAN: I did, I wrote him a very passionate letter and I love our business but I don't love the inability to pay employees with their worth. So I want a wrote a letter telling them how much are employees meant to our business center store and to myself like a lawyers and to myself and my co-owners and it was well received evidently. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It made the impression apparently. TERRY GILMAN: I asked for bonuses for all of the employees at are not being paid what I think they are worth. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Ann, you had an advocate actually recommend your store, Yellow Book Road? ANN DIENER: We did. We found out that it was Pam Munoz Brian who recommended us she has been to two different event that are stored and we're just pleased and honored that she recommended us for this grant. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: With me ask you about this question, James Patterson of course he's created the Alex Cross character and he does TV? Of commercials for his books and he is a very very successful writer but he is hardly the most critically acclaimed writer and in fact he writes most of the stuff with co-writers now, so did either of you have any qualms about accepting this money or going? Originally? TERRY GILMAN: I have to say I am is number one fan right now, not only is he putting his money where his mouth is but the amount of attention that is coming from our customers that these grants have resulted in is what I'm thinking is going to be an amazing targeting scheme of the behalf of behalf of independent bookstores of this brilliant wonderful. ANN DIENER: I agree with Terry that he is our favorite author right now and he has done several young adult books and out of those people are aware of that, and so his authors that he cowrote with have and become authors on their own and I think that he was good at giving them a start at being children's authors and I think that is a wonderful thing that he feels very strongly and that is our mantra around here is what we can do to help children learn to read and love to read and sell we are in agreement on that with him. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now Mysterious Galaxy is turning twenty-one this year, with me to get into this bookstore business and for people who are now familiar with mysterious galaxy, tell us a little bit about the books you specialize in. TERRY GILMAN: We are a genre story about twenty-two years ago I had a business plan for mixed genre stores and we specialize in mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. And we just all that around a dining room table 1 winter afternoon and decided to go for it and took it one step at a time and the next thing we knew in 1983 we're opening with Ray Bradbury and David Robert Christ and I think we had sixteen others opening at the time. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Yellow Book Road does a lot of work with children's books, tell us about that. ANN DIENER: We run from infant to teens and we specialize in things like level folks that teachers use in the schools to help children develop reading and be up sure books and we also have some teachers supplies that as much as we used to, but we do have some and things like flashcards and anything that can help children to reinforce their learning at home. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have another guest in the studio Bunny Hand, she is the store manager at Mysterious Galaxy. Maybe ask you about a number of bookstores opening has grown over the last several years that is according to the American booksellers Association, do you see business picking up locally as well? BUNNY HAND: I see business picking up while it expenses are going up at the same time where does it constant battle to keep our headache above water and we do a lot of outside activities and events and we, con and LA Times festivals and men of mystery and we go to schools and libraries and try to sell books outside of the stores well and that is what is keeping us afloat. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Terry was also talking about bringing authors and customers into the store, how is important is that for a bookstore and the people who buy books? BUNNY HAND: It creates media and customer service it is a really fun time and we do quite often, just tonight we're going to have Brandon Sanderson in the store and by the time I left the stores they viewed store sold over 100 bucks and it's a real good poll for our customers and our customers appreciated that is what we can offer as an independent bookstore that other places cannot do to create the committee. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to ask Ann and Bunny, where people as you both know are turning to e-books and giving going online to Amazon to price check and how does that impact your businesses? ANN DIENER: It has dramatically but we are hoping that we have enough of a niche market that people won't want to sit with the machine within their children with their children we're hoping that people will still want that feeling of turning the pages of a book letting the kid experience our book works and how pictures and enjoying that tactile experience with a parent or grandparent and we are constantly getting the word out that books are the important thing and so far in our market it seems to have affected us but people also are buying books. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Bunny how do you see Amazon and e-books affecting your sales and your bottom line? BUNNY HAND: Well Amazon is destroying brick and mortar bookstores and other stores, it is not even possible to compete with them. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: People come in and say they found this book on Amazon and it is four dollars lower than you are selling it, can you bargain? BUNNY HAND: We can't match prices the other was so low that you can't match the pricing, the bottom line that we have that is government step with the times and we do offer e-books on our website and anybody can buy a new book from us and they can read it on any device, we carried the kobolds but they can read it on anything except for a Kindle on a tablet Kindle is strictly Amazon so we do try to stay in that business but in fortunately there's a lot of profit that business is very very small. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Terry, you told us about using this grant money from James Patterson for your employees, tell us about that. TERRY GILMAN: The funny thing about this is I was so excited when I heard that the check and command and so excited to surprise my employees and so I did not say anything to anybody and I think I told bunny what it happened and to share with her the letter that I wrote and I was planning to come down the following week and think them and in the meantime the media was on our doorstep within moments and I could no longer keep this prize so is a bit of a anti-climax. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But it did go to staff raises? TERRY GILMAN: Went directly to bonuses, not a raise but cash directly to them and with the extra $600 I asked Bunny, what would you like to do that? She actually said she wanted to put it towards part of our programming and I think it was here in San Diego that they will she wanted promote. BUNNY HAND: We wanted to promote California Bookstore Day on May 3. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ann, how did you use the grant? ANN DIENER: We used that if you does whereby done so you know that also goes for gold to do a more in the store the book relationship and with kids and it's so great to give kids the kids fired up about reading so besides the normal author and illustrator of ends and going out to the schools, I thought it would be a great idea to try to do more programs and bring more children and. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What you see in the future for books or stores and the e-book world? ANN DIENER: That is a tough one, it's changing with daily and I just hope that there are enough people who still want to touch a book and examine the book before they buy it that they would want a bookstore and I think it will be a sad day if all of the bookstores go way and you never get a chance to preview the book when you buy it and you do get to go into the bookstore and be surrounded by books and discover things that you did not know existed until you came into the bookstore, I hope that excitement about books will continue. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to leave it there, I am out of time and I want to thank my guests, Ann Diener, Terry Gilman and Bunny Hand, thank you for talking to us.
One of the nation's best-selling authors loves independent bookstores, and he's putting up the big bucks to prove it.
James Patterson, best known for his mystery series on protagonist Alex Cross, is giving away $1 million to bookstores across the nation, and two San Diego bookstores are reaping that benefit.
In announcing the million-dollar giveaway, Patterson told The New York Times:
"Our bookstores in America are at risk...and to some extent the future of American literature is at stake."
The grants range from $2,000 to $15,000.
Patterson is still looking for other bookstores to donate to. He's accepting nominations on his website.