Shropshire Star

Two Shropshire bookshops in running for prestigious award

Two independent bookshops in Shropshire are in the running for a prestigious award.

Rosalind Ephraim, of Burway Books, a regional finalist in the Independent Bookshop of the Year awards

Burway Books, in Church Stretton, and the Poetry Pharmacy, in Bishop's Castle, have been shortlisted for the Midland area of The British Book Awards 2024 Independent Bookshop of the Year.

Poetry Pharmacy, set up five years ago by 'Emergency Poet' Deborah Alma, is well-known for dispensing reading remedies for those needing a bit of a pick me up.

Deborah Alma of Poetry Pharmacy in Bishops Castle, shortlisted for the Midlands region in the Indepdendent Bookshop of the Year award

The shop also hosts 'open mic' poetry evenings.

Burway Books, in Beaumont Road, is hoping to go one better this year having also been shortlisted in the 2023 awards.

Rosalind Ephraim, who runs the shop, said she was proud to have been selected again.

"We have had a good year, with lots of lovely customers, and the wonderful relaunch of our book club, which we hold once a month," she said.

The Heath bookshop in King's Heath, Birmingham, and The Children's Bookshelf in Hereford also make the list.

Tom Tivnan, managing editor of The Bookseller magazine, said this year's shortlist was one of the strongest he had seen in his 15 years judging the award.

He praised the resilience of independent bookshops that managed to thrive in difficult times.

"Indies have come out of the pandemic and into cost of living and business rates crises, yet still through innovation and creativity thrive as never before," he said.

"They are lynchpins for our high street, bringing jobs, footfall and communities together. You can’t really pin these indies down, as they encompass general booksellers and those who sell into niches," he said.

There are also a number of new shops that have bravely opened in the shadow of the pandemic, as well as those which have been trading for centuries.

"If there is a through-line it is that their collective knowledge and passion shine through and prove once again how much better shop-floor expertise is than an algorithm,” Mr Tivnan added.

The shops will vie to win their region first, before going on to compete for the national title, which will be announced at the British Book Awards at Grosvenor House in London on May 13.