Book-buying platform Bookshop.org and The Booksellers Association (BA) have revealed the shortlist for the New Futures programme, which supports underrepresented UK entrepreneurs to open an independent bookshop.
The 16 shortlisted entrants include Black collectives, independent publishers, mental health advocates, visually and hearing-impaired individuals, trained nurses, PhD students, members of the queer and transgender community, and more.
The shortlist will take part in a series of sessions introducing different aspects of bookselling, including the development of a business plan. The finalists, set to be announced later in the year, will receive one-to-one support from the New Futures partners who will support them with opening their bookshops.
The initiative sought applicants from diverse backgrounds, including those who identified as Black and other marginalised ethnicities, LGBTQIA+, working-class, physically disabled, neurodiverse, sufferers of mental health issues and those with learning disabilities.
The shortlist was selected by novelist, screenwriter and journalist Nikesh Shukla; founder and CEO of Beautystack and The Stack World Sharmadean Reid; HarperCollins’s Talent and Audience Development Manager Nancy Adimora; The Bookseller Editor Philip Jones; Sevenoaks Bookshop owner Fleur Sinclair, and Mairi Oliver owner and bookseller at Lighthouse Bookshop – Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop.
The programme will help these candidates to build a business plan for a multichannel bookshop by offering them learning sessions on market analysis, marketing strategy, logistics and operations, team management, financials, curation and merchandising, digital marketing, and PR activity.
They will receive “hands-on sessions” via an education programme from industry partners in retail, technology, and the book trade – including The Booksellers Association, Gardners, The Bookseller, Midas and publishers including Simon and Schuster and Faber & Faber.
The full shortlist is below:
- Jacaranda – Brent, London: a shop in which the work of Black, Brown and marginalised people whether by gender or sexual orientation are centred and exalted.
- Black Feminist Bookshop – South-east London: a bookshop, events and social space built on the works and legacies of Black feminist writers.
- The Otaku Project – Cardiff, Wales: a welcoming space for those keen to discover and connect over Manga and graphic novels from a neurodiverse bookseller.
- GCL Books – Alton, Hampshire: a bookshop that seeks to be a catalytic force in their community to support mental health – particularly for young people.
- Yellow Bird Book Club – Beeston, Nottingham: a bookshop drawing inspiration from Afro-Caribbean heritage to help children find unique and inclusive books.
- Atypicalreader – Edmonton, London: a plan for a children’s bookshop in one of the most ethnically-diverse areas of London.
- Elizabeth Yates – Carlisle, Cumbria: an accessible, inspiring community bookshop – from a hearing and visually-impaired entrepreneur – with the help of the Word Dogs!
- Olive’s Book club – Newcastle, Tyne and Wear: a working class, queer bookshop in Newcastle from a nurse deeply embedded in the local writing and LGBTQ+ community.
- Bookwyrm – Durham, Co. Durham: a bookshop and craft space from a couple (queer, trans) who are deeply connected to both their LGBTQ+ and writing community.
- Books Bakes Blethers – Dunfermline, Scotland: a baking meets book in a bookshop run by a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Dunfermline.
- Ellen Tout – Canterbury, Kent: an event and drag-inspired bookshop from a queer couple in Canterbury.
- Therapy In Progress – West Croydon, London: a bookshop for the BAME community from a social health care worker.
- OKHA, the queer + Black book club – Stratford, London: a bookshop that seeks to make stories from the African, Caribbean and Afro-Latinx fam accessible to all.
- 7 Pages – West Sussex: a bookshop from a Turkish / Spanish-speaking book-lover.
- westwords – Greenock/Gourock, Scotland: a community bookseller in Inverclyde from an entrepreneur overcoming chronic health issues and supporting other sufferers.
- Community Books – Maida Vale, London: an inclusive bookshop in an area on London with dramatic wealth inequality from an Irish/Indian heritage entrepreneur wealth inequality.
Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of Bookshop.org, said: “We are thrilled to reveal the shortlisted entrants to the New Future programme, and we are delighted to have received so many entries from such a rich set of applicants, from across the UK. It’s encouraging to see so many aspiring booksellers sharing their vision and plan to open their own independent bookshop.
“As part of our mission to support independent booksellers and help them thrive, we are looking forward to delivering our well-planned education programme to the shortlistees, giving them invaluable tools as they progress through their journey towards opening a brand new independent bookshop in their local community.”
Nancy Adimora said: “I was blown away, not only by the quality of the submissions we received but by how they reaffirmed the need for a programme like this. I’m incredibly proud of this shortlist and I’m looking forward to the next phase of this programme which will see applicants receiving the support needed to turn their ideas into reality.”
Fleur Sinclair said: “This is such an important project to be a part of and I’m so pleased it exists! Work with regards to inclusion and representation is so important in all areas of society and life. As a bookseller, I’m keen to use any knowledge and experience I have to help encourage new booksellers and bookshops into being that better reflect the whole of the reading community.”
The New Futures finalists will be announced during The London Book Fair, which will take in person at Olympia London between 5-7 April 2022. To find out more about New Futures, click here.