Booksellers across the UK have shared their delight at a week of busy trading during the annual Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) campaign.
IBW, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, saw more than 600 independent bookshops participate from 19th to 26th June. The campaign aims to spotlight high-street independents and encourage local shopping throughout the week.
In addition to serving loyal customers in their droves, booksellers capitalised on the week with publisher partnerships, involving author Q&As on social media, handed out numerous National Book Tokens and experienced a roaring trade in children’s books, with a particularly glowing weekend reported by many.
Speaking to The Bookseller during trading, Emma Corfield-Walters, owner of Book-ish in Crickhowell, Wales, said it had been “a great week especially with regards to our partnership with Atlantic Books, which has seen events every evening”. The events included an Instagram Live Q&A with author Emily Austin ahead of the publication of her debut novel Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead.
“The shop has been nicely busy, web sales are up slightly and we are getting a lot of love on social media across the board,” Corfield-Walters added.
Authors including Lemn Sissay, Grace Dent and Donaldson participated in virtual initiatives in collaboration with selected indies, while illustrator Rob Biddulph participated in book signings at Chorleywood Bookshop and Gerrards Cross Bookshop.
Louise Ashmore, co-owner and bookseller at Read in Holmfirth, Huddersfield, said the week had felt like a celebration of loyal customers continuing to shop locally, explaining: “The first Saturday in particular was really busy and it was lovely to feel the buzz of a busy shop. It has also felt like it has been a good opportunity for us to give back to the people who have supported us through the last year. In addition to the National Book Tokens that shops have given out to customers, we’ve given double reward points."
The stand out bestsellers for the shop were Baby’s First Train Robbery (Bloomsbury), the final installment in a trilogy by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins. Pizazz 3 by Sophy Henn (Simon & Schuster Children’s) and signed copies of Julia Donaldson’s latest book, The Woolly Bear Caterpillar (Pan Macmillan Children's). In adult fiction, Sarah Moss’s Summerwater (Picador) was a bestseller, with local history and walking guides also proving particularly popular.
Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the Booksellers Association, helmed the planning for the event. She said: “After an incredibly hard year or more, it’s been an absolute joy to see our members celebrating with their customers, as well as publishers, authors, illustrators and poets. It’s been delightful to see some new members opening their doors for the first time this week too.
"We’re hugely grateful to Hachette UK, our headline sponsor; to Gardners, Nielsen Book and Scala Radio for their support; and to everyone who has helped make the week a success. But of course our biggest thanks go to our members, the booksellers who are endlessly creative, knowledgeable and resilient, who work tirelessly, and are at the hearts of their communities.”
In Ramsgate, Nicci Rosengarten, creative director of the Moon Lane Group bookshops, said the weekend had attracted more crowds with the shops decorated and prepped from the beginning of the week.
She said: “Weekdays weren't so strong, but it's been so lovely to be busy and to experience good days of trade both on Saturday and Sunday. We did some of our own promotion around free £5 National Book Tokens, our Windrush Day raffle to win a luxury Harrison & Griffiths Jamaican food and drink hamper, and the shop looked marvellous with all the bunting and excitement over the Indie Book Awards.”
Rosengarten also reported strong sales of titles by Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie, in addition to The Place for Me: Stories about the Windrush Generation by Dame Floella Benjamin et al (Scholastic) and Amazing Esme by the Moon Lane group’s founder, Tamara Macfarlane, illustrated by Michael Fowkes (Hachette Children’s).
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