The regional shortlists and winners of The Bookseller Industry Awards’ Independent Bookshop of the Year category, sponsored by Gardners Books, have been praised by the judging committee for their “creativity, passion and [for] demonstrating the very best the sector has to offer”. The judges — who whittled down the 24-strong shortlist from a field of more than 60 entries, with one winner coming from each region — hailed the “extraordinary depth and calibre” of this year’s entries.
Several repeat winners are among the regional champions. The Gutter Bookshop, based in Dublin and Dalkey, won the Ireland award and Chorleywood Bookshop took the South East prize: in doing so, both chalked up their third regional triumphs in the past five years. Meanwhile, The Edinburgh Bookshop is the Scotland winner for the second year in a row (the shop is also the reigning Children’s Bookseller of the Year), while Booka Bookshop in Oswestry took top spot in the Midlands and Wales region for the second year on the trot.
First-time winners are The Hungerford Bookshop, Berkshire (South West); Caxton Books & Gallery, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex (East); Regency Bookshop, Surbiton (London); and Storytellers, Inc, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire (North).
While pipped to the post of their respective regions, several shortlisted indies were particularly praised by judges. In the Southwest region, Sarum College Bookstore, Salisbury, was noted for its "excellent stock management and second-to-none community engagement" which has led to ongoing success despite a difficult Christian bookselling market. Last year's North regional winner, The White Rose Bookcafe in Thirsk, was said to go from "strength to strength" with its innovative events programme.
Judges saluted The Blessington Book Store in County Wicklow, Ireland for its "eye-catching displays and elegant use of space". Meanwhile in the East region, relative newcomer Niche Comics and Bookshop, Huntingdon — founded in 2011 by brothers Adam and Guy Makey when they were 24 and 21, respectively — is "Exhibit A in how independent shops can reinvigorate the High Street".
The eight regional champions will compete for the overall Independent Bookseller of the Year crown. The winner will be announced at the gala Bookseller Industry Awards ceremony on 11th May, where award sponsor Gardners Books will present the winner with a cheque for £5,000.
The winning independent bookshop will go on to contest the overall Book Retailer of the Year Award.
Shortlists and winners (*) in full
Blessington Bookshop, Wicklow
Bridge Street Books, Wicklow
*The Gutter Bookshop, Dublin/Dalkey
The Bookmark, Grantown-on-Spey
* The Edinburgh Bookshop, Edinburgh
Far From the Madding Crowd, Linlithgow
* Storytellers, Inc., Lytham St Annes
The White Rose Book Café, Thirsk
MIDLAND AND WALES
The Bookshop, Kibworth
* Booka Bookshop, Oswestry
Rossiter Books, Ross-on-Wye/Monmouth
The Book Hive, Norwich
* Caxton Books & Gallery, Frinton-on-Sea
Niche Comics and Bookshop, Huntingdon
London Review Bookshop
* Regency Bookshop, Surbiton
* Chorleywood Bookshop, Hertfordshire
Kemptown Bookshop, Brighton
Mostly Books, Abingdon
* The Hungerford Bookshop, Berkshire
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath
Sarum College Bookshop, Salisbury