John Hugo said the check was accompanied by a note from the author that said, “I love this proposal. It doesn’t usually go to the owner.”
“I think it’s terrific,” John Hugo said of Patterson’s generosity. “It’s wonderful to see someone use his voice for action, and put his money where his mouth is in not wanting to see independent bookstores close. ... Maybe we sell only about 100 of his books a year, but if we go away, it will be less.”
Andover Bookstore was one of seven in Massachusetts and 55 across the country to receive grants from Patterson totaling $267,000 in what was the first round of funding. More grants are expected to be awarded throughout the year.
Hugo said by stipulating grant recipients have a children’s room in their stores, Patterson sent a clear message.
“He really wants kids reading. If they don’t have a place to read and have someone turn them on to it, it doesn’t happen,” Hugo said. “I feel a lot of readers are made in small stores where people care about them.”
Founded in 1809, Andover Bookstore is considered the second oldest continuously running bookstore in the country, behind Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Penn. It has been based at 89R Main St. for the past 50 years.
With the advent of online retailers like Amazon in recent years, Hugo said indie booksellers like Andover Bookstore haven’t had it easy. But while the maximum grant threshold was $10,000, Hugo said he never thought to ask Patterson for any more than the $500 he requested .
“I felt someone else out there could use it more,” he said.
Andover author and former Oprah Book Club pick Mary McGarry Morris applauded Patterson for his gift.
“Usually, contributions are to institutions, nonprofits ... but this is for a small-town bookstore and shows local support. It’s amazing,” said McGarry Morris, who always launches her national book tours with a kickoff at her local bookseller in Andover.
Hugo said he hopes Patterson’s gesture catches on and other authors and publishers follow suit. He said while the money is nice, it’s the exposure Patterson’s pledge has received that he hopes will pay dividends for the future of the independent bookseller.
“Hopefully, it puts us back in someone’s consciousness ... people sometimes forget we’re here,” Hugo said.
— Staff writer Judy Wakefield contributed to this report.