Independent bookshops proved they can thrive in a digital age after Surbiton’s Regency Bookshop was named the best in London by the Bookseller Industry Awards.
It beat the other shortlisted contenders London Review and Stanford’s to win the prestigious London award, one of eight regional winners in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
The regional champions will head to Hilton Park Lane on May 11where the overall Independent Bookshop of the Year winner will be announced and awarded £5,000.
“We were very proud to go up against the other shortlisted bookshops,” said Pat Freestone-Bayes, co-owner of the Regency Bookshop.
“We’ve had lots of people coming in since we were announced as London winners and we look forward to going to the national finals.
“It is quite a prestigious event in the book selling world and it’s unbelievable to beat the London Review and Stanford’s.”
The likes of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, Carnegie Medal winner Eoin Colfer and Henry Winkler have come in for signing sessions.
Ms Freestone-Bayes said that the work with the local community has kept them going.
“We offer a personal service and aim to build that relationship with the customer when they are young,” she said.
“We’ve built a very good relationship with the community, through working with local schools and holding events at various independent venues such as church halls and Glenmore House.”
Although she is delighted to be going to the black tie event in May, Ms Freestone-Baye is keen to continue the fundamentals of their success, including the 24hour delivery system.
“When you hear about independent bookshops it is often in a negative light,” she said. “But there are a number of good bookshops that are working hard.
“We don’t want to lose our identity and we cannot rest on our laurels. We just hope that we can carry on in the fashion that we have and continue to grow.”