Five Leaves Bookshop has been shortlisted for the British Independent Bookshop of the Year award.
The award is organised by the trade journal The Bookseller and is one of a range of annual awards within the publishing industry. Five Leaves started as a publisher in 1995 but opened a bookshop in Nottingham's city centre in November 2013. At the time it was the first independent bookshop to open in any city centre this century.
The shortlist comprises seven regions covering Britain. Five Leaves has been nominated for covering the region of Midlands and Wales. Don’t ask us why the Midlands and Wales have been lumped together because we haven’t got a clue. It’s a bit like having a section for London and the Outer Hebrides, but now’s not the time to fixate on particularities. We’re just chuffed that this is another opportunity for Nottingham to get some national recognition, hot on the heels of our UNESCO City of Literature accreditation on 11 December 2015. Pippa Hennessy, one of the staff members of Five Leaves, was the Project Director for the bid.
There are seven regions covering Britain and Ireland and the section winner, announced on March 4th, will go forward to the national award presented on 4 May at a gala dinner involving representatives of the whole booktrade and publishing industry. The eventual winner will be presented with £5,000 towards the running of their shop. Given that Five Leaves pays staff a living wage, we know that this money will be paid well.
Nominations for the award aren’t based around scale but rather impact. Applicants had to demonstrate examples of community involvement, financial stability and examples of projects above day-to-day bookselling. One of the most important functions of Five Leaves is their community engagement projects, such as the Bread and Roses festival and States of Independence
(12 March), or topical panel discussions, such as The Page is White
, which addressed the lack of representation of Black and Asian people within the publishing industry. Last year Five Leaves raised £3,000 for groups supporting refugees by publishing the poetry book Over Land, Over Seas: poems for those seeking refuge
, and the These Seven
literature project which fed into a wider City Read programme to encourage reading as well as writing.
Ross Bradshaw, owner of Five Leaves, arrived in Nottingham in 1979 when there were five radical bookshops including one run by the Communist Party that disappeared in 1991, shortly after a certain wall got smashed down. He was previously actively involved in the legendary Mushroom Bookshop between 1979 and 1995. Ross said: "We are so pleased to be shortlisted after only two years in existence as a bookshop. There are so many good bookshops throughout the country so we feel that we are in good company. The only other East Midlands bookshop shortlisted is the excellent The Bookshop at Kibworth in Leicester, which is one of my favourite bookshops!"
Ross Bradshaw. Image: Dawn of the Unread
Opening a bookshop in the middle of a recession takes balls as well as books. In a previous LeftLion interview, Ross said
: “I’m quite prepared to be wrong, quite prepared to go bankrupt, quite prepared to have egg on my face, but I’d rather look silly and be wrong than not have a go.”
The best way you can show your support is to pop in and buy a book. Simples.
Five Leaves will appear in the panel discussion The Only Way is Indie at Nottingham Writers' Studio on Friday 26 Feb. 7.30pm. Free
Five Leaves Bookshop and Ross Bradshaw are featured in issue 5 of Nottingham's literary graphic novel serial Dawn of the Unread.