Authors have praised the work of independent booksellers ahead of Independent Booksellers’ Week, with writer Patrick Gale saying the UK is “lucky” to have such a strong network of indies, while author Lara Williamson has urged readers to “use them” because she “can’t imagine a world without them”.
IBW, co-ordinated by the Booksellers Association (BA), kicks off tomorrow (18th June) officially and runs until 25th June, celebrating independent bookshops across the country.
On the eve of the nationwide event, the winners of the IBW Book Awards have been revealed, with Anne Enright (pictured) winning in the adult category for The Green Road (Vintage) and Pugs of the Frozen North (Oxford University Press) by author Philip Reeve and illustrator Sarah McIntyre (pictured right) named the victor in the children’s category.
The picture book category honour, meanwhile, has been bestowed on Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), after two separate judging panels made up of authors, booksellers and journalists chaired by Ros de la Hey, BA vice-president and owner of The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells in the Scottish Borders, chose the winners. The winning titles will now go onto to be championed by indies during IBW.
Gale, author of A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press), said: “We are so lucky in the UK to have such a thriving network of independent bookshops. Anyone who lives, as I do, far from a big city, can testify to their power to energise a neglected high street and act as much-loved community hubs.”
He added: “Enthusiastic hand-selling, reflective of a bookseller’s informed tastes trumps online algorithms every time.”
Children’s author Julia Donaldson also remarked on the importance of indie booksellers’ book “knowledge” along with the “dedication and enterprise of their staff”. “I am a big fan of independent bookshops,” Donaldson said. “I like the way each have their own character...with stock reflecting the tastes and passions of their owners and customers.”
Lara Williamson, author of The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair, meanwhile, warned book buyers to use indie retailers. “I can’t imagine a world without independent bookshops,” she said. “In fact, I don’t want to. Use them, love them, and hear your own heart sing when you discover the magic inside the bookshop’s door.”
Altogether around 400 indies are taking part in IBW in its 10th year.
Events include a poet tour called Shore to Shore led by Carol Ann Duffy, which will see poets Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Jackie Kay tour 15 major events across Britain, from Cornwall to Scotland, over 14 days. In addition, Off The Shelf: A Celebration of Bookshops in Verse (Picador), a collection of poetry, edited by Carol Ann Duffy and featuring the touring authors and other poets, will be exclusively available in independent bookshops for IBW.
Emily MacKenzie, winner of the IBW Book Awards' picture book category.
Two exclusive editions are being offered for sale—a limited edition signed hardback of Robin Jarvis’ The Power of Dark (Egmont) and an exclusive clothbound reissue of The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins), which will include some never-seen- before sketches to mark its 10th anniversary.
Phoenix Comic Creation workshops, meanwhile, are also taking place in bookshops around the UK, with children becoming published comic creators. The workshops launch at Foyles’ flagship store in Charing Cross Road in central London tomorrow with “The Greatest Comic-Making Show on Earth” starring comic book creators, the Etherington Brothers.
Altogether 30 indies will hold workshops and collect comic strips to be published in time for the Books Are My Bag (BAMB) celebration in October.
Enright, Reeve and McIntyre will now join all previous annual winners in a ‘Best of the Best’ competition to mark 10 years of the IBW Book Award. The Adult category will be chosen by independent booksellers and their customers, via in- store voting cards that will list all previous IBW Book Award-winners. Voting will begin on the opening day of IBW.
In 2015, 23 indie bookshops opened in the UK but 46 closed, bringing the total to 894. The number of indie bookshops in the UK has almost halved since 2005, when there were 1,535.