Sissay, Dent and Donaldson feature at Independent Bookshop Week

Sissay, Dent and Donaldson feature at Independent Bookshop Week

Authors including Lemn Sissay, Grace Dent and Julia Donaldson will feature in a line-up of virtual and in-person events as part of Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) this year.

Author events and bookshop initiatives across the UK and Ireland will run from the 19th to 26th June, including partnerships with, window displays depicting book sculptures by local artists, early releases and signed stock sent exclusively to indies, and hundreds of National Book Tokens given out as part of the High Five for Bookshops initiative.

The celebration marks its 15th anniversary this year, and aims to galvanise support for independent bookshops. The public are encouraged to visit their local shop in person, make a purchase from a store's own website or on, and join a virtual or in-store event. The week aims to celebrate the resilience and creativity demonstrated by independent booksellers over the past year, in the face of the multiple challenges posed by the pandemic.

Donaldson will be doing a live virtual event with Wee Three Indies (The Edinburgh Bookshop, Far From the Madding Crowd and Atkinson-Pryce Books), At Home With Four Indies (Booka Bookshop, Forum Books, Linghams Bookshop, and Book-ish) and Steyning Bookshop.

Dent and Sissay, shortlisted for the Non-Fiction category of the Indie Book Awards, will be discussing their memoirs Hungry (Mudlark) and My Name is Why (Canongate) in a virtual event organised by and chaired by Betsy Tobin from Ink@84 in London on 24th June. Sarah Moss and Ingrid Persaud, shortlisted in the Indie Book Awards Fiction category, will be talking about their books Summerwater (Picador)  and Love After Love (Faber) respectively in an online event in partnership with and chaired by Sally Pattle from Far From the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow on 22nd June. Tickets for both events are available with a purchase of either book from a participating indie or from

Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of the Kanneh-Mason musical prodigies, will be discussing her memoir House of Music (Simon & Schuster), talking about what it takes to raise a musical family in a Britain divided by class and race at Sevenoaks Bookshop on 22nd June.

High Five for Bookshops from National Book Tokens is back for a third year. The initiative aims to drive footfall to stores. Each participating shop will receive 100 flyers bearing unique codes, which customers enter online to claim a free £5/€5 National Book Tokens e-Gift card.

The week will also see children's author and illustrators hosting events and visiting shops. Rob Biddulph will visit Chorleywood Bookshop and Gerrards Cross Bookshop to sign his books, Draw With Rob and Draw With Rob: Build A Story (HarperCollins Children's Books) and others. Jessica Love, who is shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards in the Picture Book category, will talk about her books and invite children to draw with her in a virtual event organised by the Children’s Bookshop in Huddersfield on 22nd June at 2 p.m.

Biddulph said: “I think indie bookshop owners really are the unsung heroes of the pandemic – they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep their communities serviced – really heroic efforts on many, many people’s parts and it’s been lovely to see how communities have rallied around their bookshops too, to keep them going. If you give a little love, it and it all comes back to you, in the words of Bugsy Malone.”

Two independent bookshop are set to celebrate their first IBW this year. Truman Books will be opening its doors in Farsley, west Leeds, on 19th June, the first day of IBW, while Books & Banter, a children’s books and games shop, opened in Burton Upon Trent on 31st May.

Building on last year's scheme of twinning bookshops with an independent publisher, indies including Atlantic Books, And Other Stories, Jacaranda, Serpents Tail, Usborne, Comma Press, Saraband Books and Magic Cat Publishing wll partner with a bookshop to organise events and showcase social media campaigns. 

Some bookshops will be celebrating with bespoke displays in their windows. Linghams Bookshop in Heswall (Merseyside) will be partnering with a local book artist from Wirral, Julie Dodd, who creates  artworks mainly working with recycled materials, including books. Her work will be displayed in the bookshop window throughout the week. Artist Emma Taylor will be collaborating with Kett’s Books, a community bookshop run by volunteers in Wymondham (Norfolk) to create a sculpture to be displayed in their bookshop window for the week. 

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell has designed this year’s IBW children’s bag, available exclusively from indie bookshops.

Brian Bilston, the unofficial “Poet Laureate of Twitter” and author of Alexa, What is There to Know about Love (Picador) has written two exclusive poems in support of the campaign. The first poem will be shared exclusively on Times Radio on 17th June, read by Kate Harris from Harris & Harris Books in Suffolk, while the second poem will be unveiled on the Books Are My Bag social media channels on 23rd June, read by Fleur Sinclair from Sevenoaks Bookshop.

Andersen Press will be offering independent bookshops exclusive early release of two of Mr Benn titles by David McKee – Mr Benn 123456789 and Mr Benn Big Top – ahead of general release in July.  Canongate will be doing an early release exclusively for indies of I Get Loud by David Ouimet, ahead of general release on 1st July. Oi Aardvark from the popular series Oi Frog and Friends (Hachette) will be releasing 500 early copies for IBW. Pizza Girl (HQ) by Jean Kyoung Frazier will be released early exclusively for indies.

Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the Booksellers Association, commented: “We’re inviting book buyers to 'shop local' this Independent Bookshop Week, and celebrate the unique experience that can only be found by shopping with a bricks and mortar independent bookshop. There is a wealth of activity going on up and down the country, in-store and online. There really is something for everyone.

"We are enormously grateful to Hachette UK for their continued support and sponsorship of Independent Bookshop Week, and to all of the publishers, authors, illustrators, poets, and of course the booksellers themselves, who make the week so special. We really can’t wait to launch Independent Bookshop Week 2021.”