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BookCourt: Downtown Brooklyn’s Literary Gem
May 2015
While tablets and Kindles have made reading on the go a breeze, there is still something really special about a large, well-stocked bookstore with knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff. Although such stores may have become a bit fewer and farther between these days, residents of downtown Brooklyn treasure their local literary mecca, BookCourt. The family-owned-and-operated bookstore first opened its doors more than 30 years ago in 1981, and since then it has expanded from its humble beginnings into a sizable shop. Much like the Cobble Hill condos that surround it, BookCourt has evolved with the changing landscape of the city. It’s not huge by any means, but it’s large enough to have a very wide and diverse collection of works. The store is bright and vibrant with natural light flooding in from the overhead skylights, and the atmosphere at BookCourt is familiar and genuine—this is not a brand new bookstore/coffee shop combo that aims to seem weathered and full of character while a high-speed blender whirs in the background. The creaks in the floorboards are genuine, the result of decades of readers browsing the aisles for a new story to enjoy. BookCourt has one of the widest selections of inventory of any bookstore in Brooklyn. A separate children’s section features a smart selection of age-appropriate books that are as compelling as they are varied. Highlighted recommendations from employees are always insightful and intriguing, with many of these titles representing unique offerings compared to the bestsellers typically promoted in large chain stores. BookCourt also has a very large section devoted to poetry, often a neglected category. Moreover, their fiction and nonfiction sections are large and varied and contain everything from obscure, lesser-known authors to huge, best-selling tomes, which they always offer at a 30% discount. BookCourt is an ideal place for meandering and exploring. They have an improbably comfortable couch as well as chairs scattered throughout that offer great places to relax and page through a few selections before making a purchase. A regular stop on authors’ book tours, BookCourt welcomes many famed and accomplished writers publishing in an array of genres and styles through its popular reading series. Upcoming events include readings, Q&As, and book signings with Young Adult author Michael Buckley (May 19), songwriter Bobby Hart (May 30), and novelist T. Geronimo Johnson with Roxane Gay (May 31). BookCourt also hosts reading groups at the store including their Fiction Book Club and Small Press Book Club—both of which provide a great way to get introduced to new writers and new works and meet fellow book lovers. A great bookstore is far more than a massive room full of books. In a great bookstore the books on offer are framed by the shelves they occupy, which are then framed by the atmosphere that surrounds them. Everything in such a bookstore acts as a natural and logical extension of the books for sale, making the whole space feel cohesive and right. Long-time Brooklyn residents know BookCourt is a special place, and newer Cobble Hill condo residents seem to be happily discovering the same thing.