Between 1995-2016 the number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland had declined every year to a low of just 867 shops in 2016.
However, for the past two years the sector appears to be back in growth, according to figures from The Booksellers Association’s annual membership survey. The survey found its independent bookshop membership grew by 15 to 883 in 2018 compared with the previous 12 months.
The news provides a fillip for the antiquarian, rare and secondhand book trade who form part of the membership of The Booksellers Association. The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association has also noted an increase in its own membership.
In London, many of the book trade are preparing for The London Bookshop Crawl which returns for a fourth year next month.
The not-for-profit event on February 8-10 has been organised like “a pub crawl but with books” that aims to “help people get out, discover as many bookshops as possible and meet some awesome people”.
This year 21 antiquarian, rare and second-hand bookshops are taking part, alongside eight branches of Oxfam Books, in the specifically organised The 2nd Hand & Antiquarian Crawl including Henry Sotheran and Quinto Bookshop in central London.
A number of special events and guided group tours take place over the weekend.
The organisers also hold a summer Bookshop Crawl in a different city annually and past events have been held in Bath, Oxford and Canterbury.