Nibbies 2021: Bookstore, Small Press Regional and Country Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

Eight retailers and nine small presses now are in the running for the British Book Awards’ top winners’ list, coming in May.

At Mr. B’s Emporium in Bath, winner of the 2021 British Book Awards’ honor for bookstore in Southwest England. Image: Mr. B’s

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

British Book Awards’ Ceremony: May 13
As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the shortlists issued last month for the 2021 British Book Awards‘ honors in small retailers and presses ran to 44 publishers and 48 bookstores.

Today (March 17), the regional and country winners are being announced, with a digital event for “the Nibbies” still set for May 13—when an overall winner among these stores and presses will be named.

As you’ll recall from our reportThe Bookseller’s British Book Awards drew 40,000 views of their digital awards ceremony in summertime 2020.

The exceptional conditions created by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic are front and center this year. Comments from the awards’ organizers are rich with praise for both the independent bookstores and publishing companies placed on regional and country shortlists, many having performed valiantly under remarkably challenging circumstances.

Independent Bookstores: 2021 Country, Regional Winners

At Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham, regional winner in the Midlands. Image: Five Leaves

East England

  • Red Lion Books | Colchester

Island of Ireland

  • Tertulia | Westport, County Mayo


  • Burley Fisher Books | Haggerston


  • Five Leaves Bookshop | Nottingham

North England

  • Cogito Books | Hexham


  • Far From the Madding Crowd | Linlithgow

Southeast England

  • Sevenoaks Bookshop | Sevenoaks

Southwest England

  • Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights | Bath


  • Griffin Books | Penarth

Tom Tivnan

In a prepared statement, Tom Tivnan, managing director of The Bookseller, which produces the British Book Awards, is quoted, saying, “This was certainly the most difficult year of judging this award in Nibbies history and not because the pandemic was a body blow to indies. Far from it: although booksellers obviously would not have chosen the conditions of 2020, we were inundated with some of the strongest submissions we’ve ever seen.

“Across Britain and Ireland indie booksellers not just survived but thrived in the past year—dealing with the various lockdowns by nimbly pivoting their business models with creativity and flair.

“ The most interesting thing was that while many of the shops moved to being online booksellers during lockdown periods, they did so while maintaining their identity, their support for their core customers and their links to local communities, perhaps proving that bookseller know-how and expertise will beat an algorithm any day.”

Small Presses: 2021 Country, Regional Winners

A publication of Magic Cat Publishing in London


Two joint winners:

  • Magic Cat Publishing
  • Boldwood Books


  • Firefly Press

East and Southeast England

  • September Publishing

A publication of Merrion Books, a small academic press set in Newbridge, County Kildare

Island of Ireland

  • Merrion Press

Southwest England

  • Little Toller Books


  • Charco Press


  • Sweet Cherry Publishing

North England

  • And Other Stories

Philip Jones

In a prepared statement for today’s announcement, Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, is quoted, saying, “The small press award has been a highlight of this year’s British Book Awards, as it has once again revealed the sheer indefatigability of these publishers in this most difficult of years.

“We’re seeing now a raft of small presses, well supported by their authors, readers, and bookshops, publishing at the top of their game with stand-out success stories from 2020 including Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist, Old Ireland in Colour, and Slow Down: Bring Calm to a Busy World.

“These are publishing lists for the bigger publishers to envy, run by publishing people making an everyday difference.”

The Coronavirus in the United Kingdom

At this writing, the 5:27 a.m. ET (0923 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 4,282,203 cases in the UK’s population of 67 million, with 125,927 fatalities.

These numbers currently hold the UK at No. 5 in the world for both caseload (behind the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia) and death tolls (behind the States, Brazil, Mexico, and India).

The United Kingdom’s health secretary Matt Hancock continues to say that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, despite concerns about clotting that have caused many European nations to suspend use of the vaccine. Hancock is quoted by The Guardian, saying,

“We know that over 10 million people have had it in this country, and that’s [not only] what the British regulator says but also the World Health Organization and even the European regulator.”

As Jason Horowitz has reported at The New York Times, “The company has strongly defended its vaccine, saying that there is ‘no evidence’ of increased risk of blood clots or hemorrhages among the more than 17 million people who have received the shot in the European Union and the United Kingdom.”

More on the British Book Awards is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in general is here. And more on the UK book market and industry is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.