Arts reveals its New Futures shortlist with LGBTQ+ candidates

Graham Robson January 21, 2022, the ethically conscious book-buying platform, and the Booksellers Association (BA), have today revealed the shortlist of New Futures, a new programme to select, reach and foster entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities across the UK to open a new independent bookshop.

The New Futures initiative encouraged applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, including individuals who identified as black and other marginalised ethnicities, LGBTQ+, working class, physically disabled, neurodiverse, sufferers of mental health issues and those with learning disabilities amongst others.

Receiving 32 application from all over the UK, the shortlisted entrants include black collectives, indie publishers, mental health advocates, visually and hearing impaired individuals, trained nurses, PhD students, members of  queer and trans communities, bilingual lovers of literature in translation, and more.

Inspired by legendary bookshops like Gay Is The Word and Category Is Books, the LGBTQ+ shortlisted candidates have exciting visions for their shops, including:

  • Olive’s Book club – A working class, queer bookshop in Newcastle from a nurse deeply embedded in the local writing and LGBTQ+ community.
  • Bookwyrm – A bookshop and craft space in Durham from a couple (queer, trans) who are deeply connected to both their LGBTQ+ and writing community.
  • Books Bakes Blethers – Baking meets book in a bookshop run by a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Dunfermline.
  • Ellen Tout – An event and drag-inspired bookshop from a queer couple in Canterbury.
  • OKHA, the queer + Black book club – A bookshop in Stratford that seeks to make stories from the African, Caribbean and Afro-Latinx fam accessible to all.

The 16 shortlisted candidates will now receive a series of hands-on sessions through a concentrated education programme from industry partners in retail, technology, and the book trade – including the BA, Association, Gardners, The Bookseller, Midas and publishers including Simon and Schuster and Faber & Faber.

The aim of the education sessions is to support candidates as they build a viable business plan for a multichannel bookshop. The programme will include sessions on market analysis, marketing strategy, logistics and operations, team management, financials, curation and merchandising, digital marketing, PR activity and more.

Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of, said: “We are thrilled to reveal the shortlisted entrants to the New Future programme, and we are delighted to have received so many entries from such a rich set of applicants, from across the UK. It’s encouraging to see so many aspiring booksellers sharing their vision and plan to open their own independent bookshop.

“As part of our mission to support independent booksellers and help them thrive, we are looking forward to delivering our well-planned education programme to the shortlistees, giving them invaluable tools as they progress through their journey towards opening a brand new independent bookshop in their local community.”

The finalists will be announced this spring during the London Book Fair, which will take in person at Olympia London between April 5-7, 2022.