Greenlight Books, the Impossible Indie That Could, Gets a Location in Fort Greene


After last week’s post-apocalyptic BEA, where the reports mingled just the slightest hint of indie-optimism with a general sense of what-the-fuck-do-we-do-now, it’s encouraging to get the news out of Fort Greene that Greenlight Bookstore–the much-chronicled bookseller start-up that could–has finally found a home. The store, which began as a proposal by McNally Jackson events coordinator Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo in last year’s Brooklyn Public Library Power Up! business plan competition (it won, taking home $15,000 dollars in start-up cash), has had a lively–if mostly anticipatory–existence already.

Last summer, Stockton-Bagnulo convinced a community organization called the Fort Greene Indie Bookstore Initiative to rally around her prospective store; together, they threw a September benefit at BAM attended by Colson Whitehead, Jennifer Egan, and Jhumpa Lahiri, and dozens of people from the neighborhood. Midway through the evening, Stockton-Bagnulo announced she had a partner: Rebecca Fitting, a Random House employee who agreed to chip in a big part of what Greenlight needed to become a reality. Next came innovative community loans: Fitting and Stockton-Bagnulo invited local Fort Greene residents to invest, promising interest and a neighborhood bookstore in return for short- and long-term funding. This May, Stockton-Bagnulo announced in the Times that Greenlight had raised over $65,000 in the form of these loans, and now comes the news that the store has found both a location–686 Fulton Street at the corner of South Portland, right across from Habana Outpost–and a tentative opening date: early September.

The store intends to stock “a wide range of books, sustain a fully functional e-commerce website, and pay a living wage to its bookstore staff.” Community lenders will get special discounts initially and special privileges throughout the life of the store. How this happens in the middle of a brutal recession is anyone’s guess, but amen. Let’s not fuck this up, Brooklyn.

The Big Announcement: Greenlight Is Go! [Greenlight Bookstore Blog]