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Welsh book retailer named the best independent bookshop in the UK

14 May 2024 3 minute read
Book-ish, Crickhowell

Book-ish in Crickhowell has been crowned Independent Bookshop of the Year at The British Book Awards 2024, held in London last night.

This is the second time Book-ish has scooped the £5,000 award, which is sponsored by Gardners, having previously won in 2020.

Following on from Griffin Books in Penarth’s victory last year, Book-ish’s success means a Welsh bookshop has been declared the best in the UK and Ireland for two years in a row.

Book-ish fought off competition from eight other regional and country winners, selected from a bumper list of 77 finalists from across the UK and Ireland.

The Welsh bookshop has had an extraordinary year, with a successful crowdfunder enabling them to open a second shop in the nearby town, Abergavenny. Thanks to the team’s creative and innovative bookselling, including a focus on wide-ranging and entertaining in-store, festival and school events, sales have continued to grow in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.

“I’m absolutely thrilled, it’s so huge to bring it back to Crickhowell because it’s such an amazing community, so it’s really really special,” said Emma Corfield-Walters, founder of Book-ish.

“It gives me real confidence in what I do, how we do it and hopefully, the fact it’s been a Welsh winner in three out of the four years shows, obviously we’ve got something magic happening there, so I’m thrilled and the book community is so ridiculously supportive you just feel the love, it doesn’t matter if you’ve won or if you’re shortlisted, there are so many amazing independent bookshops, so I just wish everyone could win!”

Book-ish, Abergavenny

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor and chair of the Independent Bookshop of the Year judges, added: “Book-ish won this award – against incredibly stiff competition – due to a blend of the shop floor and the strategic. On the shop floor, Book-ish ticks every box you can think of: wonderful knowledgeable staff, a gorgeous premises, expertly curated books range, a welcoming and inclusive space, a standout events stream that runs the gamut from book and hobby clubs to talks with superstar authors.

“On the strategic it goes outside the box with clever partnerships with publishers and festivals, link-ups with schools and libraries, and an expansion to a new site, aided by an innovative crowdfunding campaign. And there is its savvy online and social media presence which it uses to champion books and literacy to an ever-growing audience. As well as serving Crickhowell and Abergavenny, there is a feeling that Book-ish is not just a bookseller for those communities, but one of those rarest of entities: a local bookshop that can make its voice heard nationally.”

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