By Stephen J. Kotz
Sag Harbor’s venerable Canio’s bookstore is trying to take advantage of the technology that, with the rise of Amazon.com and other online merchants, has threatened the very existence of the independent bookshop.
The store’s owners, Kathryn Szoka and Maryann Calendrille are asking their customers to go online and recommend them for one of hundreds of small grants the best-selling author James Patterson is doling out to independent bookstores.
Canio’s has also teamed up with Zola Books, an online store for e-book users, that works exclusively with independent bookstores.
Canio’s, like many other booksellers, is feeling the pressure being brought to bear by the online giant, Amazon.com, according to Ms. Calendrille.
“If you don’t tame it to some extent, it is going to consume you one way or the other,” she said of the new technology that is changing the face of retail. “We have to adapt to keep up to the best extent we can.”
Mr. Patterson is best known as the author of a series of novels about the psychologist Alex Cross, but he has also written children’s books and collaborates with up-and-coming authors, according to Ms. Calendrille.
All told, his books have sold more than 300 million copies, and he has now pledged $1 million in small grants for independent stores.
Stores that get enough recommendations will automatically be included in the next round of the grant competition.
“The first grants went out last fall and then there was a spring round,” said Ms. Calendrille. “Earlier this year, we thought we should really try for this and then Kathryn met Mr. Patterson at Book Expo in New York and learned about the details.”
Ms. Calendrille said the business owners were heartened to learn that the Book Review in Huntington received one of the grants, which typically range from $2,000 to $5,000.
“He is looking to make sure bookstores continue into the future,” said Ms. Calendrille. “He is being very generous. That’s really the bottom line.”
Ms. Calendrille said Canio’s has no shortage of projects for the grant money including an updating of their website and several programs for children including the “Grammar Garage,” at which students would receive after-school study help and “Poet’s Corner” for young poets.
Customers who would like to recommend Canio’s for one of the Patterson grants can do so by visiting jamespatterson.com/booksellers. Those who want to check out Zola, can do so by visiting zolabooks.com/profile/caniosbooks and clicking the IndiePledge button.