The next time you see a book where the author's name is as big as the title, and I can see dozens from my Readers' Services Desk view of the new fiction, you can thank Mr. Patterson. He also took the idea of visually identical books with sequential titles (like Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich), which makes it easy for his fans to remember and identify his books. And the fact that he publishes a book every other month or more means he always has a new book visible on the shelf. He also writes in every genre: thriller, young adult, romance, beach reads. New readers discover him every day. He has his own iPhone app. He is the James Patterson BRAND.
Other writers and publishers are beginning to grasp his powerful marketing ideas. The dilemma is finding a way to market like Patterson without becoming Patterson. Or confusing the reader by resembling him on the outside, but not on the inside. Or does it matter? Will the reader enjoy Richard Powers or Harlan Coben or Quintine Jardine regardless?
Recently Patterson threw his planetary weight behind encouraging kids to read. Read, Kiddo, Read, is his website full of titles chosen to entice kids to pick up a book. He's working with writers, publishers, and at least one school librarian to make these recommendations. Many librarians grumbled a decade ago that it took Oprah to get America to crack a book, but I don't really care if it's Oprah, J. K. Rowling or Mr. Patterson, hey ho, they're using their "power" for good! I hope thousands of people check out Read, Kiddo, Read. There are lots of fantastic books on their reading lists.
What's your take, folks: James Patterson, is he Superman? Or Lex Luthor?