Antonia Daly, of Antonia’s Bookstore, has been named this year’s winner of The O’Brien Bookseller of the Year Award. The announcement was made by The O’Brien Press on 14th August 2020.
Antonia is the 26th recipient of The O’Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award which is presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievement or an invaluable contribution to the book trade by an individual bookseller. Winners are presented with ‘The Elements’ a bronze perpetual trophy sculpted by one of Ireland’s leading sculptors, Rowan Gillespie, and a framed commemorative certificate.
Originally from Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Antonia Daly studied to be an engineer and worked at that profession for a few years, but she always loved books and her biggest ambition was to open a bookshop. In 2005, Antonia opened Antonia’s Bookstore in Trim. In the last 15 years, Antonia’s Bookstore has grown from strength to strength led by Antonia’s passion and enthusiasm for the world of books. For the last 7 years, Antonia’s Bookstore has been the official bookshop of the Hinterland Festival for which Antonia helps plan and organize events and signings. Antonia also runs a book club with young people and is a great supporter of authors, illustrators and publishers.
Speaking about the Award, Ivan O’Brien, Managing Director of The O’Brien Press said: “The world of books has changed a lot since we first presented The O’Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award for the very first time in 1995, but the core of what makes a great bookseller has remained unchanged: knowledge, passion, courage and an ability to find just the right book for their customer. Antonia personifies these qualities and is a worthy winner in these most challenging times.”
Speaking about her win, Antonia Daly said “It was so confusing at first as I was expecting to have a Zoom call with coffee and chats about books and then Ivan was on my screen asking how things were going in the time of Covid bookselling. When Ivan started reading out what I thought was a letter about me I got really confused until he got to the end and said ‘You’re Bookseller of the Year!’ and all the other faces popped up on the Zoom call.
I opened the shop 15 years ago in December and didn’t realise at the time that I was joining a family of authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians etc. – the book community is a huge supportive family of people who are always eager to help each other out and do the most important thing of all – to spread the love of reading. I also didn’t realise that an independent bookshop becomes a huge part of the community and becomes a place where people come not just to talk about books and reading but also just to come and be with other like-minded people. We have had so many chats in the shop that start with a book and evolve into some of the most interesting/strange/funny conversations. I have so many customers that I now count as friends.
I love getting out into the wider community and doing school bookfairs where you meet the child that says ‘I don’t like reading’ so I always ask what interests they have outside of books and when I find a book that makes their eyes light up and say ‘It’s perfect’, I know I’ve done my job well and hopefully started a lifetime love of reading. Book festivals are amazing and we have been the official bookseller at Hinterland Kells (formerly Hay Festival) since 2013 which is such an amazing place to meet authors, illustrators, readers, bloggers. I’ve done events in the Law Library in Dublin, Fairyhouse, the Ploughing Championships and I love being able to things like that where we do step outside our ‘comfort zone’. I couldn’t do any of the events without the amazing support of my fiancé Jason, my parents and my brother Steven, who all regularly get a call to ask ‘are you doing anything on …’ and even though they know it’s going to involve dragging boxes around they always step in to help. My brilliant staff Helen and Barbra are always beside me with their enthusiasm and support and I couldn’t run the shop without them.
When I look back at all of the previous recipients of this award, I am absolutely honoured to be in such amazing company and to be awarded ‘Bookseller of the Year 2020”
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The O’Brien Press
The O’Brien Press was established in 1974 by Michael O’Brien and his father Thomas, evolving out of a family-run printing and type house, and over the past forty-six years has established a reputation for quality and excellence in publishing for adults and children. The O’Brien Press has published over two thousand books, and today, it is Ireland’s leading independent publisher of both adult and children’s books, covering a huge range, including biography, humour, photography, history, art, fiction, politics, cookery, sport, music, memoir, true crime and travel and continues to expand into new and exciting areas. The O’Brien Press is headed by Publisher, Michael O’Brien, and his son, Managing Director, Ivan O’Brien. Always innovative, it has regularly broken new ground in publishing, including quality children’s books, graphic novels, and more. The O’Brien Press has sold hundreds of books into more than forty languages worldwide. https://www.obrien.ie/