A TYNE VALLEY booksellers has been named north England Independent Bookshop of the Year.

Popular Cogito Books, Hexham, trumped 48 other shortlisters in the Gardners Books-sponsored British Book Awards 2021 (Nibbies).

Cogito and eight other regional and country winners were praised for their response to the pandemic and now go forward to be crowned top indie in the British Isles.

"This was certainly the most difficult year of judging this award in Nibbies history", said Tom Tinvan, the Bookseller's managing editor and chair of the Independent Bookshop of the Year judging panel. "And not because the pandemic was a body blow to indies - far from it.

"Though booksellers obviously would not have chosen the conditions of 2020, we were inundated with some of the strongest submissions we have ever seen.

"Across Britain and Ireland, indie booksellers not just survived but thrived in the past year—dealing with the various lockdowns by nimbly pivoting their business models with creativity and flair.

"The most interesting thing was that while many of the shops moved to being online booksellers during lockdown periods, they did so while maintaining their identity, their support for their core customers and their links to local communities, perhaps proving that bookseller know-how and expertise will beat an algorithm any day.”

Throughout the successive lockdowns, owner Claire Grint and her team took a 'still open, just behind closed doors' approach, encouraging customers to phone and email orders for a personalised, curated service.

The overall winner of Independent Book Shop of the Year will be announced in a digital ceremony on May 13 and will be put up for Book Retailer of the Year against high street chains, supermarkets and online retailers.