It’s not every day you get a check in the mail, no strings attached, just because someone likes what you do. But that’s exactly what happened to Phoenix Books owners Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner.
The check came from best-selling author James Patterson. Patterson gave away more than a quarter-million dollars to 55 bookstores across the country this week. Recipients include Phoenix Books, in Essex, and The Norwich Bookstore. And this is just the first grant round. Patterson has pledged to give $1 million to independent bookstores this year.
Phoenix Books co-owner Michael DeSanto says his store received $5,000, and he plans to reinvest that money to promote reading in the community.
"Some of the stores are using it to help their business stay afloat," said DeSanto. "We’re not in that situation, so we can sit back and say, by God, this is going right back to the community, 100 percent."
In a letter to the bookstore, Patterson called the lack of children reading a crisis situation in this country. His intention is to help bookstores put books in the hands of more people – especially kids.
"He just doesn’t think people are reading enough, so his motivation was to help the people who had helped him years and years ago be successful by doing something back," DeSanto explained.
De Santo says he’s not sure specifically how Phoenix Books will use the grant money, but he’s promised it will be to the community’s benefit. He added, "And see if some internet company would ever do that."
James Patterson is still taking grant applications from independent bookstores that didn’t get a check in the mail this week.