Twenty-nine people have been named as The Bookseller's Bookshop Heroes class of 2020, the "extremely timely and celebratory" inaugural list of some of the best individual booksellers in the UK and Ireland.
Bookshop Heroes was launched this year with the Booksellers Association (BA) and sponsorship by HarperCollins in order to expand the remit of the Individual Bookseller of the Year Nibbie, last awarded in 2019, to recognise the true scope of shop-floor talent.
Honorees run the gamut from relative newcomers to the industry—such as bookseller Lyndsey Smith of Mostly Books in Abingdon, Brixton's Round Table Books director Layla Hudson and Lali Hewitson, owner of The Portal Bookshop in York—to trade veterans such as Newham Books' manager Vivian Archer, Nottingham's Five Leaves Bookshop founder Ross Bradshaw and Sue Chambers, children's bookseller at the Waterstones Finchley Road, London, branch.
The list launches amid a second lockdown in England and increased coronavirus-related restrictions in the devolved countries and Ireland. All the more reason, BA m.d. Meryl Halls belives, to salute the efforts of these individual booksellers. She said: "We are really delighted to be part of this extremely timely and celebratory occasion, shining a light on some of the best of our bookselling colleagues."
Halls added: "Of course, with any list like this, those on the list are representative of, and stand for, a multitude of their peers, all of whom are working hard, putting their bookshops on the map, handselling great books, connecting with their communities, getting kids reading, encouraging authors, innovating with lockdown bookselling and being incredible advocates for their trade and their profession. The booksellers who are the 2020 Bookshop Heroes are the best of the very best—they deserve all the accolades, and they are true heroes in our current landscape, constantly reinventing their shops, coping with adversity, continually providing the gift of reading to book-lovers. We are incredibly proud of our members, at this point more than ever before."
The bulk of the list comes from the independent sector with 24 entries, although two of those are from indie "mini-chains": Saber Khan, managing senior bookseller at the Bath outpost of the four-shop-strong Topping & Company and Tina Gaisford-Waller, manager at Frome's Hunting Raven, one of Winstone's three shops in the south-west. Waterstones has three entries, while Blackwell's has two. Imagine Me Stories founder Keisha Ehigie is the sole Bookshop Hero from an online-only outlet.
Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor, said: "The idea for this list started in 2019 and part of it, quite frankly, was a bit of celebratory fun. But the events of this year have put the amazing work these booksellers do into much sharper focus. A really heartwarming thing has been the nominations pouring in from customers who were deeply appreciative of the work these booksellers have put in during the first lockdown and beyond. These Bookshop Heroes have met the initial wave of the pandemic and will undoubtedly continue to survive and thrive whatever challenges come next. So what better time to raise a glass to them? Or, better yet, to order a book or two from them?"
See the full list of the Bookshop Heroes here.