It’s Independent Bookshop Week – Here’s How To Celebrate

By Olivia Emily

11 months ago

Here’s everything you can expect this June

Independent bookshops are having a bit of a moment, with TikTok – or should we say BookTok – only adding fuel to the fire. Celebrating the uniqueness, pizzazz and friendliness of our beloved highstreet bookshops, the Booksellers Association has launched Independent Bookshop Week for another year. With 700 bookshops taking part, here’s everything you need to know.

Independent Bookshop Week 2023: Everything You Need To Know

First launched in 2006, Independent Bookshop Week is part of the Booksellers Association’s Books Are My Bag campaign, and celebrates the value of our indie bookshops across the UK. The Booksellers Association, which represents over 95 percent of booksellers in the UK and Ireland, works to provide support and new ideas to drive customers towards our indies – including the likes of National Book Tokens and Books Are My Bag. The latter offers activities and campaigns throughout the year like Indie Book of the Month, Bookshop Day, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards and, of course, Independent Bookshop Week. In 2016, 867 independent bookshops were members of the Booksellers Association; in 2022, this number reached 1,072. 

When Is Independent Bookshop Week 2023?

Independent Bookshop Week will return this summer on 17 June, lasting until 24 June 2023. That said, in celebrating independent booksellers and their shops, highlighting the crucial role they play on the highstreet, the goal is to encourage shoppers to shop small beyond the dedicated week.

‘Independent Bookshop Week is one of our favourite times of the year,’ says Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association. ‘The aim of the week is to celebrate the passion, creativity and incredible drive of independent booksellers, and remind everyone how crucial they are to our high streets and local communities. With events, exclusives, special initiatives, bookshop crawls and more activities already confirmed, we can’t wait to reveal further campaign plans over the next few months, and for everyone to join in the celebrations during Independent Bookshop Week and beyond!’

What Will Happen In Independent Bookshop Week?

A range of events will occur commemorating IBW across the nation, with almost 700 independent bookshops already confirmed to take part – the highest number to date. 

The official ambassadors are Maggie O’Farrell (author of Hamnet, winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction), Rev Richard Coles (radio presenter and author of Murder Before Evensong), and Paterson Joseph (actor and author of The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho), who will all be appearing at events across the country.

the independent bookshop week ambassadors

(L-R) Paterson Joseph, Maggie O’Farrell and Rev Richard Coles are this year’s Independent Bookshop Week ambassadors. (© Faye Thomas/Sophie Davidson/NMP Live Ltd.)

Oxford residents can enjoy the Oxford Bookshop Crawl, set to take place on 24 June, whisking guests on an afternoon adventure exploring Oxford’s beautiful bookshops, meeting fellow book lovers, swapping recommendations, purchasing new books, and stopping for tea and cake (of course). 

Likewise, over in Devon, the award-winning indie, The Bookery, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this IBW, with a host of events, activities and workshops, a new bookshop extension, and special guests Michael Morpurgo, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre.

Nationwide, IBW celebrants can also expect:

  • The return of National Book Token’s High Five for Bookshops, helping customers access a free £5/€5 National Book Tokens e-Gift card to bring back and spend in store
  • Bookshop crawls, which individual book lovers are welcome to organise; the Books Are My Bag bookshop search tool is a helping hand planning your route
  • ‘Indie Twinning’, a scheme bringing independent publishers and independent bookshops together to plan new events
  • New and exciting displays in bookshop windows
  • A new exclusive poem celebrating independent bookshops written by Dean Atta, published on Wednesday 21 June
  • A special children’s bag celebrating 20 years of Cressida Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon
  • A special edition of Rev Richard Coles’ new novel A Death in the Parish available exclusively from independent bookshops
Dean Atta

Dean Atta will write a new poem for IBW celebrating our indies. (© Thomas Sammut)

‘All hail independent bookshops, without which our bookshelves and our high streets would be so much the poorer,’ says Maggie O’Farrell. ‘Everyone who can, should visit their local bookshop during IBW, to celebrate these temples to reading, and perhaps discover something new to read.’

‘There is no place better than an independent bookshop, not least because they are often home to an excellent bookshop dog!’ Rev Richard Coles says. Paterson Joseph adds: ‘What I’ve learnt this year as debut novelist is how fantastic independent bookshops are.  I’ve met the most wonderful people and the most enthusiastic readers there. One of my favourite independents is New Beacon Books in London – they have been an advocate for Black literature for many years. I look forward to celebrating bookshops this Independent Bookshop Week.’

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