Relative newcomers, shops reinvigorated by new owners and an institution still innovating in its 70th year are among the regional winners of this year’s British Book Industry Awards’ Independent Bookshop of the Year, sponsored by Gardners.
Stores in seven regions across the UK and Ireland are regional winners; the only 2015 winner to retain its title was Wicklow’s Blessington Book Store, which won the Ireland crown. Judges praised owner Janet Hawkins and her staff for a shop that “sits at the heart of the community”.
Atkinson-Pryce in Biggar was the Scotland winner, a region the South Lanarkshire business last won in 2013. Judges commended the staffers Sue Kekewich, Chris McCosh and Millie McCosh for constant reinvention that makes it the “ideal destination shop”.
In London, judges were impressed by the “amazing turnaround” of radical booksellers Housmans, which expanded its premises and had record turnover in its 70th year, all while being a National Living Wage employer. There was a similar story in the South-East and East region, with The Haslemere Bookshop getting a “new lease on life” after Ian Rowley took over the business in 2014.
Two regions were won by shops owned by former Waterstones booksellers: Helen Stanton’s Forum Books in Corbridge took the North England crown, with judges impressed by a “stellar events line-up”; and the South-West champion was Winstone’s Books in Sherborne, owned by Wayne Winstone. The shop was hailed as a “total package”.
The hotly contested Midlands and Wales region was won by Book-ish in Crickowell, Powys, a “small shop that punches well above its weight”, yet judges also wanted to highly commend Rossiter Books of Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye for “second-to-none operational expertise and a top-notch customer experience”.
The winners will vie for the overall Independent Bookshop of the Year prize, to be awarded at the British Book Industry Awards on 9th May in London. Gardners will award the winner with £5,000, to be put towards the running of their shop.
The British Book Industry Awards 2016 will be held on 9th May at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. For more information and details of how to book at the early-bird discount rate, available until 24th March, click here.