The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Independent Bookshop of the Year shortlist announced

The British Book Awards have revealed the regional and country shortlists for the 2021 Independent Bookshop of the Year Award, with this year seeing 48 bookshops from nine regional/country categories competing to be named the country’s best indie retailer for books. The shops will compete to win their region first, before vying for the overall prize, which will be announced in the British Book Awards online event ceremony on 13th May.

From the historic (134-year-old Sam Read and 95-yearold Village Books) to the relative newcomers (Tring’s Our Bookshop and The Margate Bookshop) the pandemic of the last year has seen independent bookshops up and down Britain and the island of Ireland completely transform their operational models in order to get books into the hands of readers. This has ranged from bicycle deliveries to local customers, to booksellers rapidly building new e-commerce platforms, while also creating new channels for interactive video content to replace in-person events. 

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller’s managing editor, said: “Last year was a difficult for the entire books trade but indie booksellers were perhaps at very sharpest end of the pandemic. Yet, as we can see by 48 entries on the Independent Bookshop of the Year shortlists, indies tackled the coronavirus restrictions with vigour, creativity and innovation.” 
Independent Bookshop of the Year shortlist 2021

The 2021 regional and country winners will be announced on 17th March; the overall winner will be revealed during the online British Book Awards ceremony which this year will take place on 13th May. The overall winner will receive £5,000 to be put towards the running of the shop, provided by sponsor Gardners Books.
While many book-buyers rallied to support local shops during this time, the importance of independent bookshops in the retail and publishing landscape was also recognised and boosted by industry initiatives such as the online platform, launched in 2020.  

Tom Tivnan said: “If there is a through-line it is the nimbleness in how shops changed business models no matter if they were venerable or start-ups. The bottom line is clear: indies will continue to thrive, no matter what is thrown at them. And, either virtually or in the physical space, they are true hubs of their communities.”