Yesterday, 87 independent bookstore employees in the U.S. were notified they would be receiving bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 as part of James Patterson's bookseller bonus program. The initiative distributed $250,000 to deserving staff members, including several we contacted who shared what the bonus means to them and how they might be spending their surprise holiday gift.
Melissa Oates of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., recalled the moment when she learned she had been named a bonus recipient: "Mostly, I was very excited. I think if I hadn't been seated and buckled in the car (as a passenger, of course) when I read the notification e-mail, I would likely have started jumping up and down. I am thinking I will use the money to take my family on a vacation. This is an extremely generous way that Mr. Patterson has chosen to support independent bookstores and booksellers, and I'm very grateful to him."
"I am incredibly excited about winning, and it still hasn't really sunk in yet," said Chris Linendoll of Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "I am so humbled that someone recognized me for being deserving of such a generous award. I love bookstores, and have worked at one or another for most of my adult life. Finding unique titles to recommend to customers, setting up displays, and just generally keeping the store looking good genuinely makes me happy. As for my plans for the bonus, my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease earlier this month, so I need to go through and completely overhaul the grocery situation in my house. That poor girl has been through so many tests and doctor visits lately, I'm glad I'll be able I get her exactly the toys she wants for Christmas! Also, I'll be buying myself a lot of cheese."
Corie Hiroto of Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., noted that she was "so extremely touched and honored to even be nominated at all, let alone be rewarded. I want to be the person to say 'I have no idea what I'm going to do with this money,' but the reality is I have lingering bills in the background that most of this will be applied to. However, although my family and I decided we would have a 'Bob Cratchit Christmas' with very few gifts this year, I am feeling very Christmas day Scrooge and can bring the turkey into my family that's twice the size of Tiny Tim!... I guess in short my bonus will be going towards presents for my family, paying off the last bit of my car loan (which will be in itself a huge celebration) and other bills. "
At Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., Johanna Albrecht said: "First and foremost I would like to thank James Patterson and the ABA for arranging this program--it is so touching to be honored this way and I'm exceedingly grateful. I was surprised and delighted when I got the news--and immediately bought myself some books I'd been holding out on since this is supposed to be the season you buy for others and not yourself.... I have some good friends (also booksellers) who live on the other side of the country from me, and I'm excited that I finally have the means to splurge on a trip to visit them. Those are the first things that came to my mind when I thought of spending this bonus, but I certainly have other wants and needs."
Describing herself as "extremely proud, a bit surprised and massively grateful," Clare Doornbos of Diesel, A Bookstore, Larkspur, Calif., opted for what she called "award ceremony style" to comment on her bonus: "I'd like to thank James Patterson, everyone who took the time to nominate me, Tracy Wynne for teaching me about children's books and John Evans and Alison Reid for encouraging me to pursue (most of) my crazy community and event ideas in their store. My plan is to plow this money back into the job I love: 10% will go to the bookstore's Giving Tree campaign to supply new books to a local elementary school's underfunded library. I'll use the rest to attend the Children's Institute in Florida next year. It is an honor to be recognized by customers and colleagues. It's quite the holiday gift to know I'm appreciated by them."
Alex W. Meriwether, marketing & events manager at Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., called the bonus "a huge, pleasant, humbling surprise, and wow, very cool. It's just honestly so great seeing so many hard-working booksellers--all of them so dedicated to keeping their stores thriving--having their dedication honored. I'm just so impressed at all of the different ways over the years James Patterson is reminding the world that bookstores are important. And that we all owe a great debt to our booksellers, schools, libraries, and anyone who points out a book and says 'read this.' "
Calling it "such an honor," Stefanie Kiper Schmidt, events coordinator at Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., said, "I couldn't stop smiling when I got the e-mail." Water Street Bookstore owner Dan Chartrand and perhaps "one of our lovely sales reps" nominated her. She also praised James Patterson. ("What a mensch he is!") As for how she'll spend the bonus, she added, "I'm the proud owner of a fairly shabby Cape built in the 1930s, so I think the money will go into our house fix-up fund."
|sweet pea Flaherty
sweet pea Flaherty, the owner of King's Books in Tacoma, Wash., said he plans to use the money for "only sexy things, like dental work and shoes without holes in them." Flaherty learned he would receive one of the bonuses last week, but had to keep it a secret until yesterday. Receiving such a bonus, he added, was "really awesome and a little unbelieveable. I think we, as independent booksellers, put a lot of effort into our craft with little financial compensation. So it's really amazing Patterson recognized this and rewarded it."
Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., is paying it forward with his Patterson bonus. "I actually did add it on to the bonus I was giving out to booksellers this Friday," he said. "So in the spirit of regifting, I rebonused the bonus."