Sebastian Barry has said that bookshops have taken a “quantum leap” of importance in this “strange new world” upon winning the Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) award in the Adult category for his book Days Without End (Faber).
Barry, who was also named the overall Costa Book of the Year for his gay love story set against the American Indian and Civil Wars, was chosen alongside poetry book A Poem for Every Night of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri (Macmillan Children's Books) and in the picture book category Tidy by Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children's Books).
The winners, described as “three inspiring and life-affirming books,” by Booksellers Association president Rosamund de la Hey, will now be a central focus for IBW 2017, which kicks off tomorrow (Saturday 24th June).
The books will benefit from featuring in over 400 independent bookshops' in-store POS materials, including posters and bookmarks which feature all the shortlisted titles.
Barry said he was “thrilled, strengthened and improved” by receiving the award and expressed his wish for indie bookshops to thrive until “the end of time”.
“If books constitute a magical religion that doesn't persecute anyone, then obviously a bookshop is a radiant chapel of that religion. In this strange new world the importance of books and bookshops has taken a quantum leap,” he said. “I am thrilled, strengthened and frankly improved by receiving this award from this Atlas-like sector of society -- may independent bookshops thrive, and indeed be nurtured, till the end of time.”
Esiri’s title contains a poem for every night of the year, which she describes as “ a journey through a calendar year celebrating the seasons, diverse cultures and notable historical dates”.
“I am passionate about sharing poetry with the widest possible audience and am so grateful to all independent bookshops who have championed this anthology and indeed for everything they do,” she said. “I believe that poetry, as well as being the best expression of the big stuff, also exists for the small, seemingly insignificant things in life, for the everyday.”
Gravett meanwhile thanked indies for the prize and praised their “individuality and character, the passion of the people who run them, the breadth and variety of books on their shelves”.
“The personal service they offer is such a pleasure, and important, too, especially in the way a good bookseller can match child and book,” she added.
Both Children’s and Picture Book shortlisted titles will be listed in ‘The Best New Children’s Books’ supplement that will run in The Guardian tomorrow (24th June), on the first day of IBW.
The Children’s and Picture Book categories were judged by David Litchfield, author of The Bear & The Piano; Alex Strick, diversity in children’s books campaigner and head of Inclusive Minds; Sanchita Basu de Sarka, of the Children’s Bookshop, Muswell Hill and Victoria Rossiter, of Rossiter’s Bookshop, Monmouth & Ross on Wye.
The Adult category meanwhile was judged by Anna James, blogger, author and reviewer; Tim O’Kelly of One Tree Books, and chaired by de la Hey.
She said: “Our judging meetings were lively sessions, as both panels debated three very impressive shortlists. This did, however, lead to three inspiring and life-affirming books winning, all of which independent bookshops are sure to love to hand sell. On behalf of the BA, I would like to congratulate Sebastian, Allie and Emily on their thoroughly deserved award wins!”
This year booksellers have a a raft of exclusive editions to sell to mark IBW, including an essay from Philip Pullman, Imaginary Friends, published by David Fickling, written in answer to Richard Dawkins’ assertion that fairytales may have a pernicious effect on children, with reference to the author’s own experience of reading and imagining.
Others include early access to the Faber & Faber Poetry Diary 2018, an Ian Rankin Anniversary Box Set, and an early release of The Art of Reading by Damon Young (£9.99, Scribe).
Retailers will also be able to give staff free tote bags marking the 20th anniversary of J K Rowling’s first Harry Potter book (Bloomsbury), and 15 staff from Hachette are to try their hand working on bookshop floors—including Little, Brown and Orion c.e.o. David Shelley and Jamie Hodder-Williams, c.e.o. of Hodder & Stoughton.