It is not often that someone receives a personalized email from a New York Times bestselling author. It's probably highly unlikely for most.
But the owners of Oak Park's Magic Tree Bookstore, established in 1984, received a personal letter via email from award-winning thriller and young adult author James Patterson in October 2013.
In the past year, the author has committed to give $1 million of his own money to independent bookstores around the country. Magic Tree received $6,500.
"It's so heartwarming to know that someone believes so strongly in bookstores that he's putting his money where his mouth is," said Magic Tree co-owner Iris Yipp.
In her letter to Patterson, Yipp asked for a receipt printer, a CD player and new computers.
"Actually, as I was putting the letter together, the computers crashed," Yipp said.
That was in May.
While the bookstore owners waited for the grant to arrive, Yipp said, they purchased three new computers, which they use for creating special orders, checking inventory and other business management needs. When the grant arrived they used the money to pay themselves back, purchase a new receipt printer and pay bills.
Along with the grant was a letter from Patterson.
"The work that you and your fellow booksellers do is saving lives every day," Patterson wrote. "It's saving our country's literature. You support schools. You make our communities better places to live. You help create a lasting love of reading in children and adults."
Yipp said she suspects he may write the same letter to everyone, but it still means a lot. Next time you walk past Magic Tree Bookstore, check out the window display, which Yipp said will be designed to thank Patterson for the grant.
"We are truly indebted to James Patterson and are thrilled to be recognized by someone who truly understands the importance of bookstores and libraries."