Indie bookshops Darling Reads in West Yorkshire and Maldon Books in Essex have jointly won the National Book Tokens Newcomer of the Year award for 2021.
The award, now in its second year, is given to new bookshops and based on their first year’s sales performance.
Asher Woolford and Laura Iveson from Darling Reads said they were “over the Moon” to have picked up the prize following the challenges of 2020. They said: “We've worked really hard over the past few months to establish ourselves in our local community and, despite everything, continue to supply our wonderful customers with books. This feels like real validation of that, and the team at National Book Tokens (and the Booksellers Association) have been so supportive and helpful while we have been finding our feet in this industry.”
Meanwhile Olivia Rosenthall, owner of Maldon Books, added: “Opening a bookshop in such a difficult and uncertain year has had its challenges, but our customers and the local community have continually kept us going, and for that we will always be grateful. The support we have received has been phenomenal, and we're so thankful to everyone who has shown us such kindness from the very beginning and throughout the ups and downs of 2020. National Book Tokens are such a wonderful gift for book lovers, and it's been a pleasure to help our customers choose a book to purchase with theirs. We can't wait to see them and open our doors again.”
Darling Reads and Maldon Books both win a hamper to share among their teams, a trophy, and publicity through National Book Tokens’ marketing platform, Caboodle.
Alex de Berry, m.d. of National Book Tokens, said: “After an incredibly tough year, the fact that the number of energetic and entrepreneurial businesspeople opening new bookshops has grown speaks volumes about the sector’s appeal, ongoing potential and importance to the book trade.
“This year we found it impossible to pick just one winner, even for an established business. Just being open in 2020 was a challenge, but for a new business to find new customers and establish itself in the heart of its community is immense.”
The award was launched in 2020, with the inaugural prize being given to The Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh.