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Do Bookstores Need a Government Bailout?

Do bookstores need a government bailout? Author James Patterson thinks they might. Patterson is the bestselling author of the Alex Cross series that includes Now You See Her, Alex Cross and Run, as well as Along Came a Spider and dozen’s of other titles. Many of his books have been made into blockbuster movies.

With the proliferation of ads that the author has recently taken out, he seems to have become a “bookstore ambassador”, questioning how to save the dying bookstores in America’s cities and questioning what will happen to literature and the written word.

Patterson in several interviews has said:

“I do a lot of things to try to raise level of awareness of what’s going on in country right now. This is an unusual and different time for books, the most unusual in the history of this country. E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequences of having many fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business — possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.

I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now.

I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure there are things that can be done. There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business. We haven’t gotten into laws that should or shouldn’t be done in terms of the internet. I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.

The press doesn’t deal with the effects of e-books as a story. Borders closing down is treated as a business story. Where we are in Westchester during the summer, you’d think that’d be a bookstore haven, and there’s nothing. And that’s not unusual. I don’t think we can be the country we’d like to be without literature.

While Mr. Patterson isn’t sure about the necessity of a government type bailout, he does see the need for the government to be more involved. In the UK for example, World Book Night is promoted extensively by the government, in the U.S.A., it barely gets press.

He also sees the need for a publishing spokesperson, saying:  I don’t think we have a real strong spokesperson in the publishing community, someone who can stand up. If they were, they got distracted by lawsuits [against Amazon and publishing houses]. That scares publishers, as it should. It doesn’t really matter. I’m stepping up a little. But it’d be nice if it was the head of a publishing company.”

Here is a copy of the ad:

 

 

 

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