We live in a tech age when buying the new buzzed-about novel means ordering from Amazon or downloading it to a digital device. As a result, brick and mortar bookstores are becoming harder and harder to find these days. It’s a real shame too. Bibliophiles need not give up hope entirely, though. Brooklyn is home to several quaint, independent book shops that not only offer fantastic selections but are also appealing because of their support for the local community. These are five of the best independent bookstores in Brooklyn.
The Powerhouse Arena, 28 Adams St
Located in Dumbo, The Powerhouse Arena bills itself as “a laboratory for creative thought.” This industrial, 5,000 square foot space feels more modern than the smaller neighborhood shops on the list. In addition to selling titless from art publisher POWERHOUSE BOOKS, it doubles as a venue for exhibitions and performances in art, photography, music, design, dance, film, fashion, and pop culture. Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, Spike Lee, Jennifer Egan, and Anthony Bourdain start a list of prominent names who have spoken here. And the Kids’ Corner is one of the best in the city.
Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St
In 2008, Brooklyn booksellers Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo were dreaming of opening an independent bookstore. That same year, the Fort Greene Association (FGA) surveyed residents to see what they felt was missing from their community. Their answer: a bookstore. With the support of FGA, the two women realized their dream in the form of Greenlight Bookstore. There’s a real neighborhood vibe here with a vast inventory and an event series for all ages and literary interests. In Fall 2016, a second location opened in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
Spoonbill & Sugartown, Booksellers, 218 Bedford Ave
In 1999, Spoonbill & Sugartown, Booksellers opened on Bedford Avenue long before the stretch became the cool, crowded destination it is today. It’s maintained an inviting, literary vibe over the years offering an expertly curated selection on topics covering art, design, philosophy, poetry, the classics, and acclaimed contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Be sure to leave ample time to indulge your lingering interests by thumbing through books on avant-garde film criticism and Brutalist architecture. The shop hosts a great event schedule as well.
Desert Island Comics, 540 Metropolitan Ave
Formerly an Italian bakery, this Williamsburg outpost is so much more than just a comic book shop. Sure, there are comics here, but, you’ll also find an eye-popping collection of graphic novels, art books, handmade artist books, children’s books, zines, and vintage MAD magazines. The walls exhibit art posters and prints, and the rotating window display features imaginative installations by artists. Desert Island Comics is the publisher and organizer of the Annual Comic Arts Brooklyn Festival.
Community Bookstore, 143 7th Ave
Established in 1971, Community Bookstore holds the title of the oldest independent bookstore in Brooklyn. As the name suggests, it holds a deep place in the heart of the local community. Come here and explore a ranging collection of books and then retreat to the back garden and hang out with the store’s pet cat and turtle. Be sure to check out the schedule of book parties, launches, and writers in conversation series.
Bookstores are places that cultivate fresh and exciting experiences like exploring colorful bindings on shelves; striking up conversations with friendly booksellers; discovering a new author from the “staff picks” section; or enjoying a just-cracked read with a cup of coffee. For this reason, we must continue to support independent Brooklyn bookstores and bookstores everywhere.
Also, great New York-based books, and a book about loving and leaving New York. Plus, excerpts from Laura Pedersen’s hilarious book about life in New York City.