According to data from the UK Bookseller’s Association (BA), the number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland has grown for the fifth year in a row.
The Bookseller reports that the BA has 1,027 shops registered as active members at the end of 2021, the highest number since 2013, which is up from 967 shops in 2020 and 890 in 2019. A total of 54 shops opened in 2021, while 31 closed.
It has seemed that independent bookshops were dying out between the 1990s and the 2010s, as online retailers such as Amazon gained prominence and high street sales have suffered.
However, social media-savvy young people, favouring Instagram-friendly independent retailers, are more in favour of humble high street shops. The hashtag #bookstagram has seen more than 70 million shares on Instagram, while millions more have posted photos with the likes of #independentbookshop and #booklover.
BA managing director Meryl Halls said: “After a challenging few years for the bookselling sector, it is reassuring to see the number of independent bookshops in BA membership grow for a fifth consecutive year.”
She added that the fact that the number of independent bookshops increased during lockdowns, COVID-restrictions, and supply chain issues demonstrated that booksellers have passion and determination to continue supplying books to readers, ‘even in the most challenging circumstances.’
However, Halls warned that the high street is still in a vulnerable position, and continues to be threatened by online giants and the supply chain crisis.
“We will continue to lobby the government to support booksellers and provide proper assistance and guidance, and are working with publishers and distributors to ease the effect of supply chain issues on bookshops,” said Halls.
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