A bookshop in Fowey is one of the 59 finalists for The British Book Awards 2023 Independent Bookshop of the Year.
Independent bookshops from across the UK and Ireland are entering a new golden age for bookselling; emerging from the pandemic, Brexit and cost-of-living crisis closer to their communities and stronger than ever.
Shrew Books, owned by Kate Longman, in Fowey is one of this years finalists.
Kate has a long history of working with books kick starting her career as a bookseller fresh from studying literature at Goldsmiths before going on to work for organisations such as the BBC and the Royal Museums Greenwich before working for a literary agency helping seek out new literary talents and then as a Book Buyer at the RMG before taking on the shop.
After living in London for 15 years, Kate was keen to move back to her childhood home in Fowey. After spotting that a shop called Bookends which used to specialise in second-hand and antiquarian books, in particular the works of Daphne du Maurier was back on the market, Kate put in an offer to buy it.
Kate said: “I had reached a point in my position at the literary agency where I could continue to push my career in that direction, or I could take the leap towards fulfilling my dream of opening my own bookshop, so...I leapt!”
Using the time during the first lockdown Kate planned the shop essentials, created a brand, website and curated a range of books to sell.
She added: “I felt that the bookshop in Fowey could really be a place of comfort and inclusion, where local people (and visitors) could source some of the most fascinating and dynamic titles out there - a place that can cater for both works of local interest, and books that bring the wide world of great writing and experiences to Fowey doorsteps.”
Shrew Books has now been nominated for The British Book Awards 2023 Independent Bookshop of the Year.
Kate explained: “I feel so deeply chuffed to have the shop recognised in this way, but also so humbled by the long list of such wonderful bookshops also up for the award. It’s a reminder of how loving and supportive the bookselling community can be, and that in itself is a great pleasure.”
Kate is currently working to expand her business in the future by connecting with children in the local area.
She added: “Working alongside local schools recently, prompted by a very kind private donation from a local resident, has made me realise how much I’d like to connect with our local kids on a greater level - particularly those who might not have the means to buy books of their own. I’m currently working through some ideas to make this happen, from possibly setting up a kids book club, to creating a small lending library - so, watch this space! In the shorter term I’m also gradually putting together some author events for this year, beginning with an event with Natasha Carthew in April to celebrate the release of her new book, Undercurrent: A Cornish memoir of Poverty, Nature and Resilience.”