Children's Bookseller of the Year

Introduction

These nine nominees across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland demonstrated the indefatigable spirit of children’s independent booksellers in 2020. Their endlessly creative responses to lockdowns and distancing provided lifelines to reading for children, parents and schools, and reminded everyone that bookshops are at the very heart of their communities, whether in large cities or small towns.  

Winner

Moon Lane

Ramsgate, Kent

Moon Lane isn’t just the Children’s Bookseller of the Year for the second year in a row; it is the overall Book Retailer of the Year.

Like so many indies, it managed to sustain sales during 2020’s lockdowns, delivering books locally and offering private or Zoom-based shopping for customers. It became an online retail expert overnight, with the support of Hive and Bookshop.org, and migrated its popular storytelling sessions and author events online through a lively YouTube channel, which became a rare promotional opportunity for kids’ publishers.

But it was the work beyond conventional bookselling and Moon Lane’s Herne Hill store that really stood the business apart. Its Community Interest Company (CIC) continued its mission to dismantle barriers to reading in the deprived parts of Lewisham and Ramsgate that it serves, bringing many local schoolchildren into contact with bookshops for the first time. It is one of the most committed supporters of underrepresented authors around and, through a paid internship scheme, champions a more diverse workforce in bookselling too.

The British Book Awards judges also lauded Moon Lane’s care of its staff throughout the pandemic, and its partnerships with other businesses and reading agencies. “It’s an embarrassment of riches… there’s energy and innovation in everything Moon Lane does,” they said. “It hasn’t just served its own communities during the lockdowns—it’s built whole new ones and found extra ways to keep the magic of children’s books alive. It’s simply amazing.” Judges also praised the remarkable resilience of all nine shops on the shortlist for this award. “These booksellers have had a traumatic year, and it’s incredible to find that they have emerged from it even stronger.”

The Shortlist

  • The Book Shop
    Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire
    As this Hampshire institution approaches 90 years in business, it is working hard to bring in the next generation of buyers. Its team deliver very popular ‘Positivity Boxes’ of books and chocolate treats for children, ‘Bookology’ recommendation sessions, YouTube storytimes and much more.
  • Griffin Books
    Penarth, South Wales
    Penarth’s Griffin is shortlisted for the second year in a row, having managed to grow sales in 2020. It responded to the pandemic with a new retail website, local deliveries and live-streamed book clubs and storytimes, and its subscription services were a big hit.
  • The Little Ripon Bookshop
    Ripon, North Yorkshire
    Like all these booksellers, the Little Ripon Bookshop kept local spirits up, hand delivering books across Yorkshire and turning events like its ‘Great Big Book Hullabaloo’ virtual. Its ‘Year of Reading’ package of monthly vouchers for children to spend has been a very popular gift initiative.
  • The Barrister in Wonderland
    Retford, England
    This Retford indie is a first-timer on the shortlist, having reopened under new owners in late 2019. Community-minded activities have included video calls for customers to virtually browse shelves, a crowdfunder to donate books to a foodbank and a ‘pay-it-forward’ scheme to buy titles for strangers.
  • Halfway up the Stairs
    Greystones, Ireland
    Ireland’s strict restrictions gave this County Wicklow shop a much tougher first full year in business than expected. But its small team found imaginative ways to replicate the personality of an independent online, and widespread media coverage of its efforts pulled in new buyers.
  • Drake the Bookshop
    Stockton, Durham
    Stockton-on-Tees’ Drake extended its mission to get books in front of all children, whether regular readers or not. It put on big virtual events for more than 30 primary classes and ran a ‘Gift of Reading’ project to let 550 children in care choose books for Christmas.
  • The Edinburgh Bookshop
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Shortlisted here for the eighth year in a row, Edinburgh’s independent grew sales again despite losing weeks of trading. It achieved turnover of nearly £500,000 from just 450 square feet of floor, and teamed with other Scottish shops on a ‘Wee Three Indies’ series of virtual events.
  • Moon Lane
    Ramsgate, Kent
    The 2020 Children’s Bookseller of the Year was again a force for children’s reading across its three bookshops, education business and not for profit community initiative. New projects included a Moon Lane TV channel and the first of a planned series of franchise deals in China.
  • Far From the Madding Crowd
    Linlithgow, Scotland
    Children’s books have become the heart of this central Scotland shop, which is a valued partner of local schools. It built a retail website from scratch during the spring, and was among the many indies grateful for the support of Hive and Bookshop.org.