Independent bookstores are thriving and growing for the fifth year in a row

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From the late 1990s to the mid-2010s, independent bookstores seemed to be extinct in favor of the growing beast of e-commerce.

Internet juggernauts like Amazon have noticed that sales on the big streets have declined and independent shops have closed across the UK.

But young people may be saving a modest trade on the high street, as they prefer Instagram-friendly Indians instead of ordering online.

Number of independent bookstores that are members of The Booksellers Association (representing independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers in the United Kingdom and Ireland) it is growing for the fifth year in a row and marks half a decade of growth after more than 20 years of decline.

Young people may be saving a modest trade on the high street by preferring Instagram-friendly Indians instead of ordering online. Pictured: Alice Myles instagrammer John Sandoe (Books) in central London

Daunt Books (pictured) in London’s Marylebone saw more than 100,000 people tagging their account or location on Instagram

Daunt Books (pictured) in London’s Marylebone saw more than 100,000 people tagging their account or location on Instagram

Many influencers (pictured) pose while browsing the bookshelves of urban and rural stores across the UK

Many influencers (pictured) pose while browsing the bookshelves of urban and rural stores across the UK

The number of independent bookstores affiliated to The Booksellers Association (representing independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers in the UK and Ireland) has grown for the fifth year in a row and marks half a decade of growth after more than 20 years of decline.  Pictured: one Instagram user at a bookstore

The number of independent bookstores affiliated to The Booksellers Association (representing independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers in the UK and Ireland) has grown for the fifth year in a row and marks half a decade of growth after more than 20 years of decline. Pictured: one Instagram user at a bookstore

In the picture, one customer poses at the York Emporium bookstore, while thousands of young people reveal that they shop in stores

In the picture, one customer poses at the York Emporium bookstore, while thousands of young people reveal that they shop in stores

#bookstagram has seen more than 70 million shared photos on Instagram, and millions of others have posted photos like #independentbookshop and #booklover.  Pictured is a shopper in a UK store

#bookstagram has seen more than 70 million shared photos on Instagram, and millions of others have posted photos like #independentbookshop and #booklover. Pictured is a shopper in a UK store

Bookstores have now become tourist attractions - many influential people represent a storm among books across the UK.  Daunt Books, London’s Marylebone (pictured) saw more than 100,000 people tagging their account or location on Instagram.

Bookstores have now become tourist attractions – many influential people represent a storm among books across the UK. Daunt Books in London’s Marylebone (pictured) saw more than 100,000 people tagging their account or location on Instagram.

Bookstores themselves publish pictures of their own stores in steps to build community

Bookstores themselves publish pictures of their own stores in steps to build community

The data was published as part of the annual membership survey, which showed that the number of independent bookstores in BA membership rose to 1,027 stores at the end of 2021, compared to 867 in 2016.

This is the largest number of bookstores in BA membership since 2013, which is in partly due to the explosion of book-friendly trends on Instagram and TikTok.

#bookstagram has seen more than 70 million shared photos on Instagram, and millions of others have posted photos like #independentbookshop and #booklover.

On TikTok – a platform loved by people in their late teens and early 20s – more than 34 billion people watched video-related videos.

Bookstores have now become tourist attractions – many influential people represent a storm among books across the UK.

Daunt Books, in Marylebone, London, saw more than 100,000 people tagging their account or location on Instagram.

New independent bookstores opened in 2021

  • Afrori Books, Brighton
  • BOOK Leighton Buzzard
  • Bookhaus, Bristol
  • DNA Norwich, Norfolk
  • FOLDE Dorset, Dorset
  • Gloucester Road Books, Bristol
  • Outwith Books, Glasgow
  • Upper Street Bookstore, London

  • Books on Rare Birds, Edinburgh
  • Storyville Books, Rhondda
  • Bound, Northumberland
  • The Accidental Bookshop, Northumberland
  • Athlone Bookstore, Westmeath County, Ireland
  • Ivybridge Bookstore, Devon
  • Reading Tree, Northamptonshire

The store, opened in 1912, claims to be the world’s first custom bookstore and is full of balconies, exposed beams and green lighting.

It was previously named the second most Instagram bookstore in the world.

Another that regularly ranks at the top of the list is Word On The Water, a floating bookstore on a boat near King’s Cross that has garnered 20,000 followers on Instagram.

Meryl Halls, general manager of the Booksellers Association, told FEMAIL: “After several years of challenges for the book sales sector, it is reassuring to see the number of independent bookstores in BA membership grow for the fifth year in a row.

“The fact that the number of bookstores may increase due to closures, restrictions and supply chain problems demonstrates the passion, innovation and determination of booksellers who continue to bring books to readers even in the most demanding circumstances.

On TikTok - a platform loved by people in their late teens and early 20s - more than 34 billion people watched video-related videos.  Pictured is Foster Books in Chiswick, West London

On TikTok – a platform loved by people in their late teens and early 20s – more than 34 billion people watched video-related videos. Pictured is Foster Books in Chiswick, West London

Exterior shots are also popular online.  Brick Lane Bookstore in East London is a popular place on Instagram

Exterior shots are also popular online. Brick Lane Bookstore in East London is a popular place on Instagram

Many bookworms have taken to Instagram to show their love of books online - including Hay on Wye

Many bookworms have taken to Instagram to show their love of books online – including Hay on Wye

According to BarclayCard, it is coming in the middle of a trend that people are paying more attention when shopping after closing, with many people wanting to shop locally.

The extra time has also meant that people are doing more research to ensure that the products they buy are made ethically. Retailers can take advantage of this by emphasizing their ‘careful’ credentials; encouraging more consumers to buy, as many independent retailers do.

But the rise of independent bookstores doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

The Booksellers Association even has advice for bookstores on how to use social media as a bookstore – they call it a “community building tool” and an “extremely useful way to market your bookstore.”

Let me take the shelf!  Falmouth Bookstore shared a clip of their show online with its fans

Let me take the shelf! Falmouth Bookstore shared a clip of their show online with its fans

Book Bar UK in north London often shares footage of its books and events in online stores

Book Bar UK in north London often shares footage of its books and events in online stores

West End Lane Books in north London also shared footage at his cozy shop

West End Lane Books in north London also shared footage at his cozy shop

Meryl added: “While we are celebrating this good news as we go into the new year, it is important to recognize the context of this growth.

“High Street is still in a precarious position, there may be disruptions in retail business and consumer confidence on the horizon, competitive conditions are still in favor of technology giants and supply chains are causing problems in retail.

“Although booksellers continue to be leaders in their main streets and main streets, as evidenced by a survey conducted for BA by the Institute of Urban Management (IPM), they need to be supported so that they can continue to do their important work.

“We will continue to lobby the government to support booksellers and provide appropriate assistance and guidance, and work with publishers and distributors to ease the impact of supply chain problems on bookstores.

“And as always, we will strive to encourage the public to choose bookstores whenever they can.”

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