The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Independent Bookshop of the Year Regional and Country Winners Announced

From bookshops established over 45 years ago, to sellers who set up shop during the pandemic, independent bookshops from across the UK and Ireland are continuing to thrive as they serve their communities first. 

Selected by the judges from 77 finalists announced last month, the Independent Bookshop of the Year award, sponsored by book wholesaler Gardners, celebrates those bookshops that continue to support local communities with creative, specialist and community-centred activities.

Independent Bookshop of the Year Regional and Country Winners‚Äč 2024

East England
Kett’s Books | Wymondham
Island of Ireland
The Secret Bookshelf | Carrickfergus
Brick Lane Bookshop | Tower Hamlets
The Poetry Pharmacy | Bishop’s Castle
North England
Wave of Nostalgia | Haworth
The Book Nook | Stewarton
South-East England
Pigeon Books | Southsea
South-West England
FOLDE Dorset | Shaftesbury
Book-ish | Crickhowell
Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor, said: “This has been amongst the most competitive Independent Bookshop of the Year judging process since the award was conceived. Not just in the record number of overall submissions, but in the sheer unbelievable quality of literally every shop that entered. Getting down to these nine regional and country winners was a very difficult process. Indie bookshops across the UK and Ireland are thriving and have met the very difficult recent trading conditions with creativity and cutting-edge innovation. What is truly cheering is that we see this in new shops that have popped up since the pandemic to venerable stores which have been trading for decades. In the last few years I have been calling this period an indie bookshop renaissance, but I think we have gone beyond that, we are in the golden age.”
2020 Overall Winner Book-ish returns with a chance to win big once again, as it is crowned Wales country winner. The past year has seen a successful crowdfunder open a second shop in nearby Abergavenny.
East England winner Kett’s Books is a volunteer-led bookshop, which, nine years after its conception, opened a high street store only six months ago. The new shop has seen fantastic response, with footfall, sales and deep engagement from the community showing a deep success.
The Secret Bookshelf is the first bookshop in Northern Ireland to win the Island of Ireland region. Hidden in the secret garden of The Courtyard in Carrickfergus, the shop prides itself on its diverse and quirky selection, and provides free books to local families for new-borns.
Brick Lane Bookshop is the winner in the London region, the oldest bookshop amongst the regional winners. Evolving from its opening in 1978, the shop now has its own Small Story Prize, which has been running for over five years. Right in the middle of Tower Hamlets, the store continues to be a lynchpin of the local community, offering free delivery to Tower Hamlets residents of orders over £15. Midlands winner The Poetry Pharmacy prescribes poetry and other beautiful books to anyone who walks through their doors, taking pride in being the first in the world to do so. Focusing on enhancing mental health and well-being in the local community is at the core of the bookshop’s mission.
The Book Nook is the Scotland winner, scooping the win for the first time after previously being a regional and country finalist. With book clubs for adults and children, a Mini Book Festival and a Book Bank of donations for children in care, The Book Nook remains at the heart of the Stewarton community. Meanwhile, the North England crown goes to Wave of Nostalgia, the bookshop in Haworth’s cobbled streets selling books for all ages on feminism, the lived LGBTQ+ experience and the environment, alongside it’s stock of vintage clothing and handmade toys.
South-West England winner FOLDE Dorset is an independent bookshop with nature-writing in its DNA. Their niche genre brings readers from far and wide, looking for topics ranging from rewilding to regenerative farming, wild swimming to classic nature memoirs. Practicing what they preach, the bookshop has sustainability at its heart, with purposeful practice and meaningful conversations surrounding sustainability every day.
Pigeon Books is the winner in the South-East England region, an independent bookshop in the heart of Southsea. Setting up shop just as the first lockdown arrived, Pigeon Books have emerged from the pandemic at the heart of its community, partnering with local charities, business and organisations who have helped them along the way.
The nine regional and country winners are now in contention for the overall Independent Bookshop of the Year Award, announced at The British Book Awards ceremony at Grosvenor House London on Monday 13th May 2024. The overall Independent Bookshop of the Year winner will also compete to be crowned Book Retailer of the Year.