Independent Bookshop Week 2021 plans revealed

Cressida Cowell and Sue Steel in front of their independent bookshop Simply Books

Cressida Cowell and Sue Steel in front of their independent bookshop Simply Books

Poet Brian Bilston to pen an exclusive poem as an ode to independent booksellers

The annual celebration of independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland has been given the go-ahead, according to the national Booksellers Association and sponsors Hachette UK.

Covid-permitting, this year's celebration of UK independent booksellers will be featuring a mixed programme of virtual and non-virtual events running from 19–26 June.

Confirmed to be taking part in this year's festivities is poet and author of Alexa, what is there to know about love, Brian Bilston. Other participants hosting launch events include journalist, writer and comedian Viv Groskop, illustrator Alea Marley, and children's book authors and illustrators Alex T. Smith and Jim Field.

Special creative ventures will be undertaken by Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, who has designed the IBW21 tote bag, as well as illustrator Pippa Curnick who will be transforming shop fronts in her wonderfully whimsical style.

Returning for a second time is the Indie Twinning initiative, which pairs indie bookshops and publishers to host additional events and activities. A new #DrawYourBookshop competition will be introduced by graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero and special early releases of books from David McKee, David Ouimet and Oi Frong and Friends will be available.

Poet, Brian Bilston said: 'I'm thrilled to have been asked to write a poem in celebration of Independent Bookshop Week. And celebrated they should be. The last twelve months have been a stark reminder of the importance of our independent bookshops: the role they play in the heart of their communities; their ability to connect us with other people and other worlds; and the companionship of books. I don't think I've missed anything more in this year of lockdowns than being able to pop into my local bookshop for a quick, casual browse only to emerge an hour or so later carrying enough books to stock a miniature library.'

Prior to the pandemic, the number of independent bookshops around the UK was soaring with 100 new independent bookshops opening their doors between 2016 and 2020. It goes without saying that the event's 15th edition comes after a much more challenging period brought on by the ongoing pandemic.

Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the BA, commented: 'The past year has undoubtedly been a challenging one for indie booksellers, but their resilience, flexibility and incredible hard work throughout national lockdowns has been deeply inspiring to witness. We're looking forward to shining a light on the UK and Ireland's brilliant indie booksellers during Independent Bookshop Week, and encouraging all book-lovers to support indies (whether on the high street or online) and join the celebrations.'

To follow further announcements for this year's Independent Bookshop Week, visit indiebookshopweek.org.uk or @BooksAreMyBag on Instagram.

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