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“I’m looking for shops that are already making a difference in their communities, shops that could use some help to do even better,” he explained.
All manner of requests will be considered, from a spot bonus for a valued employee to money for an upgraded computer system or a particular project aimed at getting more children to read.
Patterson has sold over 280 million copies of his books worldwide and has topped Britain’s library lending league for seven years running.
In the past decade he has begun writing for children, with titles including I, Funny and Middle School.
He launched a similar scheme last year in the US, pledging $1 million to booksellers there.
Patterson also took out a press ad last year calling for a US government bailout of independent bookstores.
“I’m rich; I don’t need to sell more books,” he told the New York Times. “But I do think it’s essential for kids to read more broadly. And people just need to go into bookstores more. It’s not top of mind as much as it used to be.”
The first successful bidders in the UK scheme will be announced in September.
Tim Godfray of The Booksellers Association said: “This is good news for bookshops and anyone who loves reading. We are delighted that James Patterson is acting on his love of bookshops and his appreciation of their vital importance to cultural and community life.”
Figures published earlier this year showed that the number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen below 1,000.