Minn. booksellers will receive a bonus check from author James Patterson

Published 8:50 am Saturday, December 22, 2018

By Matt Mikus

MPR News/90.1 FM

Top-selling author James Patterson continues his holiday tradition of sending a bonus check to independent booksellers, and 11 Minnesotans are among the recipients for 2018.

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Patterson continues to be one of the highest paid authors, earning $86 million and selling 4.8 million books in the U.S. alone, according to Forbes.

This year, 333 booksellers from independent bookstores will receive a bonus check of $750 through the American Booksellers Association, funded by a $250,000 donation from the author.

“Patterson has long been a fan and supporter of indie bookstores,” said one recipient, Nikki Silvestrini of Zenith Bookstore in Duluth. “It reiterates the fact that the work we do has value and helps to keep us going.”

The booksellers aren’t told who nominated them for the bonus or why.

“It’s just the thought that at least one person would consider me eligible for this,” said Daley Farr of Milkweed Books in Minneapolis, who received a bonus for a second consecutive year. “It’s pretty incredible.”

For booksellers who love their job, the added financial help is welcome.

“People don’t go into this career for the money. It doesn’t pay a ton. They go into it because they love reading and want a small business in the community,” said Drew Sieplinga, a bonus recipient at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis.

“It’s a way to make ends meet,” Sieplinga added. “This is a way to keep those dedicated employees in the business.”

Here are the recipients from Minnesota:

  • Devin Abraham, Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis
  • Lance Abramson, Lake Country Booksellers in White Bear Lake
  • Lee Becker, Cherry Street Books in Alexandria
  • Aaron King, Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis
  • Judith Kissner, Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge
  • Daley Farr, Milkweed Books in Minneapolis
  • Ann Nye, Excelsior Bay Books in Excelsior
  • Julie Poling, Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul
  • Drew Sieplinga, Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis
  • Nikki Silvestrini, Zenith Bookstore in Duluth
  • Blisse Wilson-Robinson, Common Good Books in St. Paul

The holiday bonus has been offered since 2015, and the number of Minnesota booksellers represented continues to grow. In 2017, when Patterson offered $350,000 to bookstore employees, eight booksellers from Minnesota made the list.

In 2016, four bookstore employees from Minnesota received a check. Patterson also offered grants to independent bookstores in 2014 totaling $1 million.

Recommendations from a few of the booksellers

We asked a few of the Minnesota booksellers for a recommendation, in case anyone needs a last-minute gift idea:

Drew Sieplinga, Wild Rumpus

I would suggest “Dreamers” by Yuyi Morales. This one is a beautiful story, and it’s the author’s own story of their journey to the United States from Mexico, which is pretty timely considering the current events. It’s a picture book that’s beautifully written.

Daley Farr, Milkweed Books

I just enjoy this little book called “Directory of American Menu Hotlines, 2018-2019 Vol. 1” by Andy Sturdevant. It’s this stylebound book with details and phone numbers of community services and churches around the county that have their menus on a pre-recorded phone service. It’s interactive, kind of silly, but says something bigger about our country and gives you a sense of place in an old-school analog way.

Nikki Silvestrini, Zenith Bookstore

I really love “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s this great young adult novel about a young Latinx Dominican Republican woman who’s a slam poet who’s trying to find her voice. It’s also written in poetry form, which can be a bit off-putting for some readers, but she’s got anger and trying to figure out who she is.

Julie Poling, Red Balloon Bookstore

It’s hard for me to pick just one. Often the first question I ask is what age are you buying for. But there is one of my favorite Christmas books for the season is “Humphrey’s First Christmas.” Humphrey’s a camel and he’s hysterical. I love to sell that book every year.