Both The Margate Bookshop and Ramsgate’s Moon Lane Books and Toys have made it to the South East regional shortlist. They now stand a chance of being crowned the top independent bookshop in the UK and Ireland.
Independent bookshops have been a surprise success in the last ten years, amidst the stories of the ‘death of the High Street’. In 2020, there were over 200,000 retail jobs lost as over 300 shops closed every week.
But last month, the Booksellers Association reported that the number of independent bookshops rose for the fourth consecutive year, with 50 new shops opening in 2020.
“I’m so chuffed to make the shortlist, especially in these months when I’ve spent the majority of time sat in a closed shop on my own packing up orders,” says Margate Bookshop owner Francesca Wilkins, who opened her shop in the Old Town in May 2019.
“You don’t get that many reminders that you’re doing a good job and occasionally my confidence in what I do falters. It feels like a huge honour to be amongst such distinguished bookshops, particularly regionally.”
Moon Lane opened in Ramsgate in November 2019 and has hosted activities and author workshops. The team are currently running events online.
Nicci Rosengarten, manager at Moon Lane Children’s Books & Toys, Ramsgate: “We are over the ‘Moon’ to have been shortlisted as a Regional Finalist for the Independent Bookshop of the Year in the South-East England region by the judging panel at The British Book Awards.
“It is testament to the support and love of our wonderful local and online community who love and celebrate children’s books, and feel as strongly as us about children being able to see themselves in a book and to be excited about reading for pleasure!”
The Margate Bookshop and Ramsgate’s Moon Lane Books and Toys will now progress to a second round with regional winners announced on 17th March. Those nine finalists will advance to the finals, with an award ceremony to be held online on May 13.