Used to be that when you wanted to buy a book in the Cobble Hill area, your options were almost TOO numerous. Did you prefer to wander the musty, densely-packed aisles of Community Bookstore, where piles of literature rose from the ground like stalagmites, teetering precariously over your head as you browsed? Or was BookCourt more your bag, with an expertly curated selection and a packed slate of readings and high-profile author events?
In either case, too bad! Community Bookstore was cleared of its mountainous kipple in the spring, and now BookCourt is following suit, after its owners, Henry Zook and Mary Gannett, announced that they’re retiring. The store, which opened in 1981, will close its doors for good on December 31, they said in a statement:
We want to thank our Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill neighbors for their loyal support. Against many odds, BookCourt grew and flourished in a time when many independent bookstores closed. It’s important to note that in addition to your support, BookCourt was able to thrive through economic and industry turbulence because we invested in the neighborhood and the real estate which housed the bookstore. We could not have survived the challenges of rent increases, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon otherwise, and we are thankful that we were able to provide this community with an independent bookstore for many years…
We realize that BookCourt’s closing leaves a void in the neighborhood and the industry. We especially want to tell the neighborhood children that we will miss you. Your enthusiasm has been a big part of what made our jobs and the store so wonderful. Seeing you curled up on the bench, the couch, or on the floor reading, brought joy to all of us every day.
This is terrible news for area bibliophiles, but unlike so many things, it’s counterbalanced with something good: Author Emma Straub announced that she’s looking to open an independent bookstore of her own in the same area. From a statement posted on her website:
When we found out in early October that BookCourt was going to close at the end of the year, we were truly heartbroken. In addition to being my former employer, and the site of all five of my book launch parties, BookCourt is a part of our daily family life. Our children know its every corner as well as we do. We’ve fallen in love countless times within its walls—with Jennifer Egan and Colson Whitehead, with Elaine Dundy and Paula Fox, with Iggy Peck, Architect and Ounce Dice Trice, with the right book for the right moment, over and over and over again.
A neighborhood without an independent bookstore is a body without a heart. And so we’re building a new heart.
We’ve spent the last few months looking at spaces, getting our math together, and thinking about light fixtures. We have secured initial funding and crossed our fingers. And so, dear Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Waterfront, and beyond…you won’t be lonely for long. Books are magic, and we want to make sure that this neighborhood is positively coated in bookish fairydust for decades to come.
Fairydust is certainly better than construction dust from new condos.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2016