The Bookseller is calling for submissions for its inaugural Bookshop Heroes special, a listing of some of the best individual booksellers in the UK and Ireland, supported by the Booksellers Association and sponsored by HarperCollins.
The special feature will salute the inspirational managers, superstar hand-sellers, innovative events gurus and canny buyers who are the heart and soul of British and Irish bookselling.
Nigel Roby, The Bookseller chief executive, said: "During this difficult lockdown period, the way bookshop owners and staff have been supported by local communities and on social media is testament to the affection they generate. And with good reason: there is nothing quite like a knowledgeable bookseller championing the latest book that has fired up their enthusiasm. Bookshops are bright lights on a troubled high street and their booksellers truly are Bookshop Heroes."
The BA's m.d. Meryl Halls agreed with Roby that the pandemic has underscored the importance of booksellers. She said: “We’ve always known that booksellers were heroes and the past few months have made that ever-more evident to ever-more people. The esteem and affection with which towns and communities hold their bookshops and their staff has multiplied. The Bookseller has been steadfast in its support for physical bookshops through these exceptionally challenging times, and it’s great that it is signalling the importance of Bookshop Heroes to the whole trade. We need now, more than ever, for the whole trade—authors, agents, publishers, distributors—to salute Bookshop Heroes, to toast their resilience and champion their future success.”
Any bookseller, at any experience level, from both independent and chain shops in the UK and Ireland, is eligible to become a Bookshop Hero. Nominations can come from managers, colleagues, competitors, customers—or the bookseller themselves. Nominators may put forward as many booksellers as they like. To be considered, a testimonial of not more than 300 words outlining the individual bookseller's achievements, and why they warrant being a Bookshop Hero, should be emailed to The Bookseller managing editor Tom Tivnan (email@example.com).
Entries must be received by 2nd September and the Bookshop Heroes special edition of The Bookseller will be published on 30th October.
As well as the special itself, one individual bookseller will be crowned Bookshop Hero of the Year, and will receive a British Book Award. The award replaces the Individual Bookseller of the Year award that was last given out at the Nibbies in 2019, which HarperCollins sponsored for many years. Recent Individual Bookseller Nibbies have gone to Noor Hemani of Edinburgh's The Lighthouse Bookshop, Blackwell's Aberdeen branch's Greig Watt, and Mariana Mouzinho of Blackwell's Newcastle.
HarperCollins' group sales director Anna Derkacz said: "Bookshops are a window on the high street for our titles and booksellers are their champions—their energy and ingenuity are vital to getting our authors’ work into readers’ hands, and creating bestsellers. In spite of lockdown, we have seen creativity and passion shine through as booksellers adapted and never gave up. Seeing bookshops reopen has been wonderful, and we can’t wait to honour our Bookseller Heroes later this year."