Count best-selling suspense author James Patterson among Andover Bookstore’s fans.
The local independent bookseller is on the receiving end of one of the first wave of gifts that the award-winning author is doling out to bookstores across the country in hopes of shining a spotlight on their value.
Patterson last year pledged $1 million to indie booksellers as his way of encouraging public support for their work and helping to support their future.
But instead of giving the money to just a handful of shops, Patterson invited booksellers to submit 250-word essays applying for up to $10,000 apiece as a way of maximizing the impact he could have on the most businesses.
The focus of the grants was left wide open to include just about anything — from new shelving or carpeting to structural repairs to employee bonuses. The only requirement was that the applicants boast a children’s room in their stores.
It was around Christmas when Andover Bookstore co-owner John Hugo submitted his proposal.
He said every holiday, his father, Bob, who bought the bookstore in 1990, rewards his employes with some type of bonus in appreciation for their work. But invariably, Bob Hugo would opt not to take any extra for himself, his son said.
John Hugo asked Patterson for $500 so he could treat his father to a special dinner out in thanks for all he does. In addition to Andover Bookstore, Hugo BookStores also operates The Book Rack in Newburyport and Spirit of ‘76 Bookstore in Marblehead.
“My father has run three profitable bookstores, although I would insert the word ‘barely’ in before profitable because the last three years have been tough,” John Hugo wrote to Patterson. “Since he’s always good to his employees, I want to do something nice for him.”
Patterson not only granted Hugo’s request, but added an additional $500, sending a check for $1,000 to Andover Bookstore last month.