A SMALL bookshop in Edinburgh has won the title of the UK's best independent book shop at a prestigious publishing awards.

Golden Hare Books, in Stockbridge, won the title at the British Book Awards, against competition from across the country, for being "an exemplary indie."

The book shop received a cheque for £5,000, beating eight other regional winners for the award - it has already won the title for Scotland in March.

Golden Hare Books was also shortlisted in the Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Individual Bookseller of the Year categories at the awards.

The bookshop was established in Stockbridge in 2014, after first opening in the Grassmarket in 2012.

Bookseller Julie Danskin said it looked as if the bookshop would not survive three years ago, when it was struggling.

However she said a determined effort to stage events to connect it with the local community, as well as book launches and other events, had helped turn the business around, and now it was thriving.

Ms Danskin said the success of the shop owed much to its customers who had embraced the modest-sized books shop on St Stephen Street.

She said: "We realised that with a bookshop you have to go out to the community, to give them a reason to come in, and to really develop the audience."

She added: "I'm absolutely stunned.

"There were so many amazing bookshops up there.

"It's a real honour to receive this."

She said that she think that "books are back" and that, although people buy a lot of books from "major international brands" they are heading back to independent bookstores in large numbers.

"You get to know people when you are a bookseller - when you help someone find a book you can hear about their lives, you find out about people," she said.

Ms Danskin added: "There's a really great community of independent booksellers communicating with each other and helping each other. I think there’s a real momentum for independent bookshops and it's up to us to keep that going."

The bookshop carefully chooses its books, with a range of 3000 titles, and employs three full time booksellers and two part time.

It holds many events and initiatives such as launches, the Edinburgh Book Fringe festival and “Bibliophile” podcast.

The British Book Awards are produced by the the leading literary magazine The Bookseller.

Forty eight bookshops were in the running for Independent Bookshop of the Year 2019.

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller’s managing editor and chair of retailer categories, said: “There may be no better evidence of the resurgence of independent bookselling than this incredibly strong shortlist of regional winners and Golden Hare as the overall champion.

"Golden Hare is an examplary indie: yes, it sells loads of books but, perhaps more importantly, it is a lynchpin of the local community.

"The number of indie shops in the UK and Ireland has risen over the past two years, which is good news for the high street in general but it also shows that readers are increasingly responding to personal interactions and knowledgeable booksellers’ recommendations over online algorithms."