That’s how bestselling author James Patterson introduced himself to a (large) group of co-workers at my office today. He was visiting to film a spot promoting his newest book, Sundays at Tiffany’s.
I’ve been reading James Patterson’s books since about 1994. His first few Alex Cross books scared the crap out of me – back in those days, Tim worked nights sometimes, and if I read an Alex Cross book while Tim was out then I had to sleep with ALL the lights on. Some people criticize his writing, and I’ll admit that it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but he knows how to tell a good story.
So when the opportunity to attend today’s event came up, you can bet that I RSVP’d right away. I was not disappointed. Mr. Patterson was funny, and had some great insights into the book business. He visited our new “concept store” and had great things to say about it. One of his big concerns about bookstores is “elitism” and that lots of people don’t actually feel comfortable going into a bookstore because they don’t know what to expect, they think they won’t know what to do, etc. Imagine going into a hardware store for a gift, he said, and only having a vague idea that the person might possibly like something from the hardware store. And then trying to select a gift. Well, it can be like that at a bookstore for a lot of people, and he says our new store design helps those people feel comfortable. I happen to agree with him.
He also talked about how important it is to get kids reading. Just get them reading something they’re interested in – doesn’t have to be classic literature, just something they like – and eventually they’ll “find their own level.” I wholeheartedly agree with this, and in fact it’s the approach that we’ve taken with Book Boy. We let him read what he wants, and while he does still read some of the basic “step” readers or even Dr. Seuss books, he really has found his reading level and tends to read at that level. (I will say, though, that I will NOT buy him “step” readers anymore – I’m not paying $ for a book that will take him 10 minutes to read.)
So anyway, it was a nice event today, and now I’m going upstairs to start reading my free, autographed copy of Sundays at Tiffany’s.
Edited to add: I realized later that this is actually the second autographed James Patterson book I have. When I was working at the bookstore, a friend got me an autographed galley of Cat and Mouse at BEA (the annual booksellers convention). The cool thing about that is they actually changed the ending of the book between the time the galleys went out and the time they published the final version! That doesn’t happen very often.