From the late 1990s through the mid-2010s, it seemed that independent bookstores died out in favor of the growing beast of e-commerce.
Internet juggernauts like Amazon have seen high-street sales dwindle with the closure of independent stores across the UK.
But young people may be saving the humble high street store, as they prefer Instagram-friendly indies rather than online ordering.
The number of independent booksellers that are members of The Booksellers Association (representing independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers in the UK and Ireland) has grown for the fifth consecutive year, marking half a decade of growth after more than 20 years of decline.
Youngsters might save the humble high street store, as they prefer Instagram-friendly indies to ordering online. Pictured: Book instagrammer Alice Myles at John Sandoe (Books) in central London
Daunt Books (pictured) in London’s Marylebone, has seen over 100,000 people tag their account or location on Instagram
Many influencers (pictured) pose in bookcases in city and country shops in the UK
The number of independent booksellers that are members of The Booksellers Association (representing independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers in the UK and Ireland) has grown for the fifth consecutive year, marking half a decade of growth after more than 20 years of decline. Pictured: An Instagram user in a bookstore
A shopper is pictured posing in the York Emporium bookstore as thousands of young people reveal they are shopping in stores
#bookstagram has been shared more than 70 million times on Instagram, while millions more have posted photos with the likes of #independentbookshop and #booklover. Picture a shopper in a UK store
Bookshops have now become tourist attractions – with many influencers creating a storm among books in the UK. Daunt Books, in London’s Marylebone (pictured), has seen more than 100,000 people tag their account or location on Instagram.
Bookstores themselves post step-by-step photos of their own stores to build a community
The figures were released as part of its annual membership survey, which found that the number of independent bookstores with BA membership grew to 1,027 stores at the end of 2021, from 867 in 2016.
This marks the highest number of bookstores in BA membership since 2013, which in partly due to the explosion of book-friendly trends on Instagram and TikTok.
#bookstagram has been shared more than 70 million times on Instagram, while millions more have posted photos with the likes of #independentbookshop and #booklover.
On TikTok – the platform favored by those in their late teens and early 20s – more than 34 billion people have watched videos about books.
Bookshops have now become tourist attractions – with many influencers creating a storm among books in the UK.
Daunt Books, in London’s Marylebone, has seen over 100,000 people tag their account or location on Instagram.
New independent bookstores to open 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 Bookshop, London
- Rare Birds Books, Edinburgh
- Storyville Books, Rhondda
- The Bound, Northumberland
- The Accidental Bookshop, Northumberland
- The Athlone Bookshop, County Westmeath, Ireland
- The Ivybridge Bookshop, Devon
- The Reading Tree, Northamptonshire
Opened in 1912, the store claims to be the world’s first custom-designed bookstore and is filled with a balcony, visible beam and green lighting.
It has previously been voted the second most Instagrammable bookstore in the world.
Another that regularly tops the lists is the Word On The Water, a floating bookshop on a barge near King’s Cross, which has amassed 20,000 followers on Instagram.
Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the Booksellers Association, told FEMAIL: ‘After some challenging years for the bookselling industry, it is reassuring to see the number of independent bookstores in BA membership growing for the fifth year in a row.
“The fact that the number of bookstores may increase in the face of lockdowns, restrictions and supply chain issues demonstrates the passion, innovation and determination of booksellers, who continue to bring books to readers even in the most challenging circumstances.”
On TikTok – the platform favored by those in their late teens and early 20s – more than 34 billion people have watched videos about books. Pictured is Foster Books in Chiswick, West London
Photos of exteriors are also popular online. The Brick Lane Bookshop in East London is a popular Instagram spot
Many bookworms have taken to Instagram to show their love for books online – including this one in Hay on Wye
It comes amid a trend of people becoming more conscious about their shopping after the lockdown, with many people looking to shop locally, according to data from BarclayCard.
Extra time has also led people to do more research to make sure the products they buy are made ethically. Retailers can take advantage of this by highlighting their ‘mindful’ credentials; encouraging more consumers to make a purchase, something many independent retailers do.
But the rise of independent bookstores seems to be going nowhere.
The Booksellers Association even has tips for bookstores on using social media as a bookstore — calling it a “community-building tool” and an “extremely convenient way to market your bookstore.”
Let me take a plank! Bookstore Falmouth has shared a photo of their display with their fans online
Book Bar UK, in North London, often shares photos of their books and shopping events online
West End Lane Books, in North London, also shared snaps in their cozy shop
Meryl added: “While we celebrate this good news as we head into the new year, it’s important to recognize the context for this growth.
“The high street is still in a precarious position, with a potential disruption to retail activity and consumer confidence ahead, the playing field is still skewed in favor of tech giants and supply chains causing trouble in retail.
“While booksellers remain leaders in their high streets and high streets, as the Institute of Place Management (IPM) research for the BA shows, they must be supported to continue doing their important work.
“We will continue to lobby the government to support booksellers and provide proper assistance and guidance, and work with publishers and distributors to reduce the impact of supply chain issues on bookstores.
“And as always, we will do our best to encourage the public to bookstore as often as possible.”