Best BookStore Expanding in the Face of a Vanishing Industry - 2009
Last fall, we were walking past our favorite independent bookstore, BookCourt, when we stopped and did a double-take. The once-crammed shop in Boerum Hill had doubled in size, adding an extra 1,800 feet, with a new sky-lit ceiling and a large room for hosting the kinds of readings and panel discussions you would never find at the nearby Barnes & Noble. (For instance, on a recent summer evening, the store was packed with hip, young literary types who came to see author and longtime BookCourt customer Jonathan Ames have knives hurled dangerously close to his face by a man simply named The Great Throwdini.) This is the kind of store where obscure literary magazines are proudly on display in the front window, not hidden on some bottom shelf, and where the staff handwrites short, convincing recommendations of books that are decidedly not in Oprah's Book Club. And somehow, in the face of Amazon, the Kindle, and the ominous presence of Barnes & Noble, this family-run shop continues to thrive. According to owner Henry Zook, who opened BookCourt in 1981 with Mary Gannett (their son, Zack, is the general manager), business has been up ever since the expansion. Who says print is dead?