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Palm Beach's James Patterson Profiled in NYT Magazine

jFor better or worse, people do judge books by their covers. And if a cover has the name James Patterson on it, there is a much better chance someone will deem that book worthy of purchase. That's one of the primary themes of this week's New York Times Magazine cover story about the former advertising exec and current Palm Beach resident.

Patterson is the head of a vast, extremely successful publishing brand. He already holds the Guinness world record for having written the most bestselling books (51). Add to that the audio books, the possibilities of feature films (two of which have already been made), television movies, a number of potential TV series, and videogames. According to the story, Patterson is responsible for one out of every 17 novels purchased in this country since 2006.

One local Barnes and Noble manager told the Juice that down here, it's probably "closer to

one in five. James Patterson is a franchise, especially among the beach-going tourists." He added: "There has not been a week in the last five years that we did not have some Patterson cover showing at the front of the store. Whatever you think of the writing, half the staff of our book store might be out of a job if not for James Patterson."

A new book with his name on it is released virtually every month. And the factory never closes.

From the NYT story:

"Patterson may lack the name recognition of a Stephen King, a John Grisham or a Dan Brown, but he outsells them all. Really, it's not even close. (According to Nielsen BookScan, Grisham's, King's and Brown's combined U.S. sales in recent years still don't match Patterson's.) This is partly because Patterson is so prolific: with the help of his stable of co-authors, he published nine original hardcover books in 2009 and will publish at least nine more in 2010."

Other highlights from the story include Patterson's appreciation for "literary writing," his insistence that he could write a "pretty good" piece of literature if he so desired (and I'm inclined to believe him), a funny encounter at the Palm Beach Grill, and Patterson's entertaining -- and sometimes bitter -- rivalry with Stephen King.

At an anniversary party with his publishing firm and a series of toasts, Patterson thanked the crowd, then said, "I'm sorry my good friend Stephen King couldn't be here. It must be bingo night in Bangor."

Overall, the story paints Patterson as the people's author. Not so much in his approach, which is a very corporate, professional, clean process, but in his desire to entertain the common man, the tired Americans who, he tells the reporter, "go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something."

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Michael J. Mooney

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