JAMES PATTERSON DONATES $100,000 TO BOOKSTORES IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
In his first visit to Australia in 11 years, Patterson announced a $100,000 donation from which Australian and New Zealand book sellers with dedicated children’s sections could apply for cash grants of up to $5000. The donation was timed for Patterson’s arrival in Sydney for a series of Writers’ Festival events and promotion of Rafe’s Aussie Adventure, his Middle School pre-teens collaboration with writer-illustrator Martin Chatterton.
The greatest challenge facing society, warned Patterson, was getting bright children to read more broadly and at-risk kids reading competently. One in three Australian high school students could be considered functionally illiterate. Patterson’s hope was that Australia might follow Germany’s lead and set up a ministerial foundation to support and acknowledge the importance of independent booksellers as missionaries of children’s literacy. Were Amazon to locate its operations in Australia, Patterson predicts half the local bookstores would close.
Patterson has been one of the loudest voices in the book world warning about the pressure of online discounting and e-book retailing on the local bookstore. Retailers, who applauded Patterson’s assistance, have been lobbying for the imposition of GST for all online purchases and a review of international parcel delivery agreements.
Patterson holds the Guinness Book of Record for Number One New York Times bestsellers. Total worldwide sales exceed 300 million, of which he has sold 4.5 million copies in Australia.
A former copywriter, Patterson’s prodigious output includes one or two standalone thrillers each year in his name and seven or eight books which he commissions by way of detailed 50 to 80 page synopsis, edits and, if necessary, rewrites. To criticism of his methods, “my answer is Simon and Garfunkel, Lennon and McCartney, Stephen King and Peter Straub and the Coen brothers”.
As a commissioning editor and co-author, Patterson has branched into the genre of young-adult and children’s fiction, collaborating in six children’s book series. Chatterton describes his partnership as a “pain-free” experience, and Patterson as a precise and conscientious editor. “I strive for the highest common denominator,” Patterson says.
Patterson’s passion for child literacy began with his son’s reluctance to read. One summer he cancelled Jack’s chores and told him his only obligation was to read for one hour a day. “Give them stories that they’ll gobble up like chocolate pudding and ask for more,” says Patterson of the secret to enthusing reluctant readers. The only bad book was one that put a child off reading for life.
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