A new bookshop has been opened to help reverse the “calamity" of the rapid rise in the number of small towns without a High Street bookshop.

Waterstones has opened Harpenden Books in High Street, Harpenden as the UK’s leading bookseller seeks to reverse the problem.

Hundreds of independent have closed over the course of the last decade leaving many communities without a much-loved bookshop, a situation which Waterstones managing director James Daunt is keen to address.

He said: “We are delighted to bring back to Harpenden a proper bookshop. It builds on the great success we have had with Southwold Books in Suffolk and The Rye Bookshop in Kent, towns which had also lost their shops.

“We are very proud of these local bookshop which, while a lot smaller than a standard Waterstones, are exceptionally attractive and well stocked.

“Over 600 independent bookshops, most in small towns, have closed in the UK in the last 10 years, a calamity we are very pleased to start to reverse.”

Bookshop manager Ines Freitas added: “We have been delighted by the enthusiasm and goodwill we’ve already received from the local community for our bookshop.

“With its elegant design and carefully selected range of books Harpenden Books will be a pleasure to browse and to enjoy with the family.”

Harpenden Books opened to the public Friday, April 1.