Record number of stores in the running for Independent Bookshop of the Year

Record number of stores in the running for Independent Bookshop of the Year

The British Book Awards, or Nibbies, have revealed the regional shortlists for the 2020 Independent Bookshop of the Year with a record 49 bookshops from nine regions across the UK and Ireland vying to be named the country’s best indie retailer for books. 

The shops will compete to win their region first—to be announced on 20th March—with those stores battling for the top prize at the Nibbies ceremony on 18th May. Sponsor Gardners Books will once again present the overall winner with a cheque for £5,000 to be put towards the running of the shop.

Three of last year’s Independent Bookshop of the Year regional winners (Five Leaves, Book-ish, and DRAKE—the Bookshop) will attempt to retain their crowns. Nottingham’s Five Leaves, which won the overall gong in 2018, notched a sixth straight year as a regional shortlistee. But there are newcomers on the list, too, including Bristol’s Storysmith and The Margate Bookshop, which began trading in 2018 and 2019, respectively. 

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller’s managing editor who led the shortlisting committee, said: "There has been a resurgence in the last few years for the indie books sector with a growing number of stores and an increased market share. You can see why people are looking more towards indies by the brilliant shops on our regional shortlists. The High Street in general may be struggling but indie bookshops are thriving in this challenging environment because of the expertise of staff—which can beat an Amazon algorithm any day—but also that they are true hubs of their communities."

There are 16 shops which have previously won regions since The Bookseller instituted the regional shortlisting system in 2011, including two-time champs The Edinburgh Bookshop (Scotland), Book-ish (Wales) and Forum Books (North England). 

Tivnan added: "It is really heartening to see the spread of the shortlisted shops, not just geographically but in longevity: there are businesses that have been mainstays for decades, such as Philip’s Book Shop in Mallow or the Chepstow Bookshop — and are still just as creative and passionate as the day they started. But there are also the newcomers like BrOOKs in Pinner and Bristol’s Storysmith which are bringing fresh energy to the sector."

The shortlists in full are below, while more information on each of the shops can be found here.