The founder of Afrori Books, Carolynn Bain, won Individual Bookseller of the Year at the 2023 British Book Awards also known as The Nibbies.
Bain is the founder of Afrori Books, a Brighton-based bookshop that highlights Black authors. Bain said in her acceptance speech: “Black authors are doing incredible work and they deserve the platform, they deserve the acknowledgement, they deserve the space in this industry. Black people deserve to see themselves represented in books.”
The British Book Awards, also known as The Nibbies, celebrates books by showcasing the authors and illustrators who have stirred hearts and imaginations, and the industry behind the scenes who have brought them to readers.
Bain opened Afrori Books during the pandemic after she lost her job as an event manager and witnessed the news of the murder of George Floyd. In October 2021, Bain crowdfunded and raised money to open the bookshop in the North Laines of Brighton.
The bookshop was previously located in a building owned by an arts charity but a rent hike threatened closure. Afrori recently moved to a new location in the Brighthelm Community Centre:
The aim was always to create a safe space for Black people and their allies, and we’ve worked really hard at that. People come because they feel safe here, they feel they can ask questions, that they are not going to have to deal with aggressions and racism and the things that they often deal with in their everyday lives. That’s why I felt it so deeply and really painfully when we thought we were going to lose the shop—that’s what would reduce me to tears. I felt something was being taken away from our community.
The bookshop includes books by Black authors selected by Bain in collaboration with publishers as well as educational workshops hosted by Afrori.
Many of the workshops are in response to issues brought up by customers such as a hair education workshop motivated by a white mother who did not know how to care for her mixed-race daughter’s hair, an anti-racist kids’ club, and poetry and writing workshops. Afrori also runs Brighton Book Festival every June, which Bain co-founded with The Feminist Bookshop.
Congrats to Bain and Afrori on the well-deserved win!