A bookshop in Chepstow is one of 59 independent bookshops selected as regional and country finalists for The British Book Awards 2023 Independent Bookshop of the Year.

Chepstow Books and Gifts is part of a network of Independent bookshops from across the UK and Ireland entering a new golden age for bookselling; emerging from the pandemic, Brexit and cost-of-living crisis closer to their communities and stronger than ever.

The British Book Awards 2023 Independent Bookshop of the Year Award, sponsored by book wholesaler Gardners, celebrates those stores that continue to support their local communities with bespoke bookselling and tailored initiatives.

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor and chair of the Independent Bookshop of the Year judges, said: “If there is one thing that has been driven home by these finalists it is that independent bookshops have been one of the winners of the pandemic.

‘‘Indies have come through what could have been a hugely devastating time for the sector in their strongest position in decades.

‘‘We have seen this generally in the increased numbers of indies throughout the UK and Ireland.

‘‘But we also see it more specifically in these finalists with the shops’ innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity—all done in the service of local communities. We have entered a new golden age for independent bookshops The shops will compete to win their region first, before contending for the overall prize, which will be announced at The British Book Awards ceremony at Grosvenor

House London on Monday 15th May 2023. The overall Independent Bookshop of the Year winner will also be in the running to be crowned Book Retailer of the Year.

There are five former overall winners featured as finalists this year, including Mr B’s Emporium in Bath (South- West England), Linghams Booksellers in Heswall (North England), St Boswells’ The Mainstreet Trading Company (Scotland), Five Leaves Bookshop of Nottingham (Midlands) and Crickhowell shop Book-ish (Wales).

Additionally, six of last year’s regional and country winners - Bookbugs & Dragon Tales (East England), Burley Fisher Books (London), Wonderland Bookshop (Midlands),

Forum Books (North England), The Edinburgh Bookshop (Scotland) and Book-ish (Wales) - will attempt to reclaim their crowns.

The baker’s dozen of first-time nominees includes Queer Lit, the former online-only LGBTQ+ specialist which opened its bricks-and-mortar store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in 2021; the Ross and Cromarty stalwart The Ullapool Bookshop, whose manager Katharine

Douglas was named on The Bookseller’s Bookshop Heroes list in 2022; Leyton’s Phlox Books, which founder Aimée Madill named after the shop her parents owned in Belfast during the 1980s; Swindon’s Bert’s Books, launched by long-time W H Smith marketer Alex Call in 2019; and David’s Bookshop, the 60-year-old Letchworth Garden City institution which in 2020 was bought by staff and put into an employee ownership trust.

This year’s list of finalists also features some of the UK and Ireland’s oldest and newest booksellers go head-to- head. Sam Read Bookseller (North England), which was established in 1887, features alongside several bookshops that have opened their doors since 2019, including three which started life during the pandemic: The Book Nook Stewarton (Scotland), East Gate Book Shop (South West) and Dial Lane Books (East).

Ruth Gardner, Gardners’ UK Sales Manager, said: “We are so proud to be sponsoring the Independent Bookseller of the Year award for the 14th year!

‘‘Over the last few years, booksellers have proven themselves in the face of adversity - adapting, evolving and progressing to new heights.

‘‘We know it hasn’t been an easy ride, but it ’s amazing to see them thriving.

‘‘The list is a tough one, with every entry being a worthy winner – it could be the toughest yet!‘

‘‘We’d like to wish every entry the very best of luck, and can’t wait to be part of this journey with them.’’