Take a minute to read this interview with James Patterson.
If you’re like me, you come away from that feeling disgusted. I’m not sure who I’m more frustrated with. James Patterson for not caring about quality of his books, the publishing companies for only thinking about money or the consumers for making trash like this “bestsellers.” I don’t know if these books sell so well because they are quick, easy reads that don’t invoke any thought, or because they have some hidden merit that I can’t see, but this is one reason I was delighted to leave the bookselling industry and move into the library. I was so tired of pushing books that I hate on people. Every day, I had to bury the books that I love deep in the shelves to be forgotten while I
had to put books that make me grimace and made me embarrassed for the writer on multiple displays. At the library, at least our library, it’s the exact opposite, and I love it.
One thing does make me feel better about all this though. James Patterson may be sitting by his pool outside his mansion sipping on margarita’s while he writes the outline for 5 new crappy novels and 5 young authors who have given up on writing a book themselves, work on more of his crappy novels, but he knows that he will never, ever receive any kind of respectable literary award. Alex Cross will never be mentioned in the same sentence with “Pulitzer or Man Booker” and the idea of
Witch and Wizard or Maximum Ride receiving a Newbery or a Printz award is hilarious.
I don’t think this bothers Patterson at all. He is making his money, and he’s fine with that, but the fact that these awards are beyond him makes me feel better about things. You see, book awards still matter. Authors like Rebecca Stead, Lewis Lowry, Clare Vanderpool , Aravind Adiga, Paul Harding and countless other award winners will never top the New York Times bestsellers list for very long. But they can be proud that they’ve given the world some very fine books, and they’ve reached a level that complacent writers of “commercial literature” can never hope to rise to.
That’s why I keep my Newbery display up all year long, and smile every time a few books get checked out. Somewhere, a kid is reading a darn good book, and their world is going to be much brighter for it.