TOPSHAM, Maine — Prolific author James Patterson, whose books have sold nearly 260 million copies, included Percy’s Burrow in Topsham as one of the 54 independent bookstores to receive money in the first wave of his headline-grabbing $1 million giveaway.
Percy’s Burrow was one of 11 New England stores chosen, but reportedly the only one in Maine. Patterson is distributing more than $260,000 in the first batch of grant awards and will reportedly give out almost $750,000 more over the course of the rest of the year.
Jessica St. Pierre, assistant manager at Percy’s Burrow, which is located in the Topsham Fair Mall, said the store’s employees “have a few ideas” about what to do with the $2,500 they’ve been awarded, but they haven’t had a chance to make any final decisions as a staff.
“We just found out yesterday,” she told the Bangor Daily News by phone Thursday afternoon. “We were really excited, and we were really proud to have received the money.
“James Patterson is one of the most wonderful people out there,” St. Pierre continued. “We’ve met him on a couple of occasions at different bookstores, and he’s always been really warm and welcoming to us and to the kids he writes for.”
Patterson has written books in a variety of genres, including romance and young adult fiction, but he is perhaps best known for his thriller novels, at least four of which have been made into feature-length Hollywood films.
He has acknowledged that the small grants — between $2,000 and $15,000 each — that make up his $1 million giveaway likely won’t be enough to save any independent bookstores on the verge of going out of business. But he said the publicity generated by the grants helps raise awareness for booksellers, libraries and reading.
“I just want to get people more aware and involved in what’s going on here, which is that, with the advent of e-books, we either have a great opportunity or a great problem,” he told the New York Times Wednesday. “Our bookstores in America are at risk. Publishing and publishers as we’ve known them are at stake. To some extent the future of American literature is at stake.”
St. Pierre said the grants have been effective as a tool for opening eyes locally, not just for bookstores in general, but Percy’s Burrow in particular.
“It gives us some cool [credibility] with the kids: ‘Hey, James Patterson likes us,’” she said.