Independent Bookshop of the Year

Independent Bookshop of the Year

Winner: Independent Bookshop of the Year

Golden Hare Books

Golden Hare Books

The nine shops on this shortlist show the robust health of independent bookselling at the moment, and all are winners of sorts, having been recognised as the best in various regions of the UK and Ireland. Only one can take the overall title of Independent Bookshop of the Year though and it is Scotland’s winner, effervescent Edinburgh indie Golden Hare Books, that triumphs.

In a city not short on either bookshops or distinctive independent retailers, Golden Hare stands out for the beauty of its boutique-style store, its sharp growth in sales, and its eagerness to try new things in the pursuit of customers. As well as extensive events, the shop has a book subscription service, collaborations with local businesses such as a Wine and Cheese Book Club with a nearby wine bar, and LitFix reading clinics with booksellers. There’s a Golden Hare Friends membership scheme too, and a nicely produced monthly Bibliophile podcast.

On the shelves, the store has a small but superbly curated range of around 3,000 books, with a slant towards translated fiction, female authors and diverse children’s books—as well as Golden Hare’s own début book, published in mid-2018. Its team knows its Stockbridge community inside out, and the affection in which the shop is held was shown when Waterstones announced plans to open an unbranded bookshop in the area. Following protestations from customers and authors, the chain backed out of the opening, earning Golden Hare a welcome shot of PR.

Shortlist

  • Book-ish
    In Crickhowell (Wales winner). Grew sales by a third thanks to events including a literary festival
  • Charlie Byrne's Bookshop
    In Galway (Ireland winner). Labyrinthine bookshop and hub of the cultural scene
  • Drake-the-Bookshop
    In Stockton-on-Tees (North of England winner). Bookshop with a passion for inclusion and reading for pleasure
  • Five Leaves Bookshop
    In Nottingham (Midlands winner). Last year’s winner, it had its best sales yet and ran events such as Feminist Book Fortnight
  • Gullivers
    In Wimborne Minster (South-west England winner). A much-loved part of its town for half a century now
  • Newham Bookshop
    In Lambeth (London winner). Celebrated 40 years of making a difference to its community in 2018
  • Niche Comics
    In Huntingdon (East of England winner). Tiny but remarkable specialist set up by two brothers on the autistic spectrum
  • Sevenoaks Bookshop
    In Kent (South-east England winner). Marked its 70th birthday with a year of big events

Video: Julie Danskin on the delights of being Independent