There’s a pretty interesting discussion on Reddit right now about how someone was annoyed that James Patterson is no longer writing his own books. I did some commenting myself, which you can find under the user name “sonorandragon,” but I’ll condense those comments down here too.
A Redditor who’s a Library Page commented on how the books are a waste of space. My response to that was, I think, pretty typical of a circulation supervisor: How can the books be a waste of space if you’re constantly putting them away. I grant you, James Patterson isn’t a Faulkner or a Tolstoy. However, his books surely circulate a hell of a lot more than Faulkner’s and Tolstoy’s combined. That’s part of what we’re supposed to do as librarians and as circulation professionals. Give the people what they need, but make damn sure that what they want is there too. Most of the time, a patron needs to read Faulkner. It’s for an assignment or a report or for some compelling reason.
And after they finish As I Lay Dying they’re going to want something entertaining like Along Came a Spider.
This goes along with a comment I made about romance authors. What people don’t realize (unless they work with books) is that the romance fan is an even more ravenous creature than the sci-fi or fantasy fan. Fantasy fans are thumping on tables demanding that George R. R. Martin write a new novel. The romance fan is too busy reading a stack of 15 books to care. Granted, if Jill Shalvis or Nick Sparks aren’t putting out something fairly regularly, I get to hear about it.
Finally, there’s a connection that I think a lot of people miss when it comes to Patterson (and Clancy, and Cussler, and V. C. Andrews, and so on), he’s done the same thing as Walt Disney and Jim Davis, but with books.
He came up with a character (like Disney did with Mickey Mouse and Davis did with Garfield). Then he wrote some things on his own featuring his character. (Jim Davis used to draw Garfield at his kitchen table.) Then, when his character(s) hit big, he gave the grunt writing work to others so he could sit back and work on big picture stuff like plot lines, marketing, and future developments for the series. (Just like Disney did with his music education series, Disneyland, and further Disney productions.)