The first category of this year's Bookseller Industry Awards opens next week, with booksellers urged to enter the Independent Bookseller of the Year award.
Sponsored by Gardners, this prestigious competition identifies the finest indie bookseller in the country, with the winning shop receiving a prize worth £5,000. The six regional winners are selected by Gardners, The Bookseller and the BA, with each shop becoming a contender for the national award, picked by the judging panel of the overall Bookseller Industry Awards.
Shops are judged on five criteria: operational excellence, customer service, community impact, the store itself, and the sustainability of the business. Entries can be submitted from 12th January until 31st January through www.thebookseller.com/awards.
The current holders of the title are Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, while previous winners include One Tree Books (2010), Simply Books (2009), The Watermill Bookshop (2008) and Jaffe & Neale Bookshop and Cafe (2007).
Nic Bottomley of Mr B's said: "Winning was a boost to the business in terms of PR—directly or indirectly it led to us featuring on two or three different BBC outlets and in the broadsheets. And that's all over and above the pride and satisfaction it gives the team. It has a huge impact on the regular customers, who feel involved in the success. Also, we used the £5,000 to speed up the development of a better website and its subsequent marketing."
Bob Jackson, commercial director at Gardners, said: "As an independent business, Gardners Books has focused on developing consistently improved service for our customers, and continually re-invested in our company every year for the past 25 years.
"We are delighted to sponsor this year's award for the Independent Bookseller of the Year to recognise the similar commitment of independent bookshops to excellent personal customer service, and to support their re-investment in their business by offering a cash prize of £5,000 to promote and market their bookshop.
"In today's tough trading and economic climate, we are providing this cash element to enable the winning bookseller to develop their strategy in the most pragmatic way possible. We encourage all independent booksellers to enter for the award."
The winning shop will pick up the prize at the black-tie Bookseller Industry Awards, held this year at London's Park Lane Hilton on 14th May.
Entries for the other Bookseller Industry Awards categories—covering the full gamut of publishing, retail and libraries—will open on 20th January, with full details in The Bookseller.