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Independent Bookshop Week: 10 of the best new retailers

Showing the true spirit of independence, these bold outlets all opened in the last 10 years – and some even during the pandemic

Once upon a time a pandemic swept through the land. People had to stay closer to home, the escapism they found in reading became more important than ever. This is the context in which we celebrate this year’s Independent Bookshop Week.

Though our love of books may have deepened, high streets have been hammered, libraries – already decimated by pre-Covid cuts – continue to be threatened. Luckily a new kind of hero has risen: the humble local bookshop.

Despite everything that’s happened, the number of independent bookshops has increased for the fourth year in a row, following two decades of decline. There now are close to 1,000 across the UK – the highest number since 2013 – breathing life into shuttered town centres, and serving as vital hubs for communities.

Here we celebrate 10 of the best newcomers to the scene, all of which are less than 10 years old.

The Book Nook, Stirling

Leanne Brown and Jasmine Stenhouse’s city centre bookshop/coffee shop bravely opened just last September before it was made to close, then allowed to open again. Selling mainly secondhand books, but with a small and growing collection of new books, it has quickly become a much loved hub. thebooknookstirling.co.uk

Wonderland Bookshop, Nottingham

Specialist children’s bookshop Wonderland opened in the market town of Retford in May 2019.Customers rave about new owner Helen Tamblyn-Saville’s contagious enthusiasm, as well as the upside-down tea party on the ceiling). wonderlandbookshop.co.uk

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The Stripey Badger, Grassington, Yorkshire

Not just worth visiting for its appearances in the updated All Creatures Great and Small, this popular bookshop was opened by mother and son team, Linda Furniss and award-winning bookseller James Firth, in 2018. As well as its enthusiastic and knowledgeable hosts, it also boasts a cosy sister cafe.thestripeybadger.co.uk

Ebb & Flo, Chorley

This pretty bookshop, run by the four-strong all-female team of book obsessives Diane Gunning, Jayne Stevens, Wendy Gratix and Lesley Roberts since 2013, hosts a weekly storytime, a book club and regular author events. @ebbandflobooks

Dial Lane Bookshop, Ipswich

Despite never having worked in the books industry, and having no business experience, Andrew Marsh realised his dream of opening a bookshop last year. His focus is on supporting small publishers and new authors. And his beautifully decorated shop is a feast for the eyes! diallanebooks.co.uk

Bear Bookshop, Bearwood, West Midlands

Local Bearwood teacher and mum-of-three Jenny McCann opened her shop in December. She is passionate about encouraging children to read and sees her shop as not simply a store but a ‘community resource,’ where families can come and share their love of books with their kids. bearbookshop.co.uk

Category Is Books, Glasgow

Started by wusband and wusband team Charlotte and Fionn Duffy-Scott, this ‘fiercely independent queer bookshop’ in Glasgow’s Govanhill opened in 2018. It stocks new and secondhand queer books, magazines, graphic novels, zines and badges and has proved a huge hit among locals and visitors from afar. categoryisbooks.com

Rother Books, Battle, East Sussex

Ian Cawley opened his shop in 2017 and works there single-handedly. The space is small (just 400sq ft) but, being a low-beamed 15th- century building, it has lots of character. His focus is on fiction, children’s, local and history. Like many bookshops, he is dependent on his ‘very loyal’ customer base. @RotherBooks

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BookBar, Highbury, North London

2021 newbie BookBar is a bookshop, wine bar and events space on Blackstock Road. Owner Chrissy Ryan is keen on establishing a personal relationship with her customers and is brimming with ideas, such as her mood-matching Shelf Medicate Prescription and Consultation Service. The shop focuses on fiction, social, international and identity politics, science and current affairs, and also hosts a monthly book club. bookbaruk.com

Reading Roots, Wetherby, West Yorkshire

Ex-English teacher Keira Andrews opened the only independent (non-secondhand) bookshop in Wetherby in December, 10 years after the last bookshop closed its doors. Through the shop she has fundraised to give a free book to every local child on free school meals, and is fundraising to restock a school library. readingroots.co.uk

Find out about your local independent bookshop and events taking place over Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.org.uk #IndieBookshopWeek

You can also support indie bookshops even while buying online via bookshop.org

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