Locust Valley bookseller receives James Patterson grant

Edmund Bingham of Locust Valley, left, picks up Edmund Bingham of Locust Valley, left, picks up a copy of a James Patterson novel while speaking to Tracey Aledort, owner of Forest Books on May 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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A struggling Locust Valley bookseller received a boost in morale and funds this week.

Forest Books was awarded a $2,500 grant by bestselling novelist James Patterson, who has pledged to give $1 million to aid independent booksellers across the United States. This is the second round of funding in Patterson's effort, in which 43 bookstores around the nation received $268,000 in aid. The announcement was made Wednesday at the BookExpo America publishing convention in Manhattan.

"It's going to pay some really vital bills," Forest Books owner Tracey Aledort said Thursday of the grant. "It's unbelievable for my morale, and for my customers knowing it -- it's just as exciting."

About three-quarters of the funds will go toward bills, and Aledort said she's thinking of something creative to do with the rest.

She bought Forest Books from the previous owner in 2002. The bookstore had been in Glen Cove for more than 20 years when she moved it to Locust Valley three years ago in an effort to cut expenses and save the store.

Aledort said she hopes the win will also draw some publicity to the plight of local independent booksellers as they try to survive in the age of e-commerce.

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Forest Books isn't alone on the Island in being hit hard by the harsh winter. Earlier this month, BookHampton -- a mainstay bookseller on the East End -- put out a plea via social media for its customers to visit its stores and "buy one book" to help the company make it to the summer season.

Forest Books is the second bookstore on Long Island aided by Patterson. In February, Book Revue in Huntington, which also saw sales slip during the harsh winter, received a grant. Owners Richard and Robert Klein said they, too, would use most of the funds to pay bills.Booksellers interested in applying for the Patterson grant program can visit jamespatterson.com/booksellers. The only requirements are that the business must be viable and have a children's book section.

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