Definitely in the running for New York’s most literary borough, Brooklyn appears to have a quality independent bookstore on just about every corner. The scene is thriving, thanks to lots of vocal, supportive readers. It was tough to choose, but here’s are our six favorite bookstores in Brooklyn. By Jessica Allen.
163 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
If there’s a more beloved bookstore in Brooklyn, we’ve yet to find it. Since 1981, the family-run BookCourt has helped its clientele discover everyone from Salinger, to Schumer and Saunders. Even better, the folks who work here tend to be writers in addition to booksellers, so they’re always willing to talk shop. The space is ginormous, with a fabulous selection of kids’ books, new releases and signed editions. Go forth and browse whenever you get the urge — BookCourt is open 365 days a year. We can pretty much guarantee you won’t leave empty handed.
Book Thug Nation
100 North 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Aside from having a great name, Book Thug Nation has a great selection of used books. This Williamsburg bookstore was founded a few years ago by several folks who used to sell books on the street and the same scrappy ethos permeates the bookstore and community space, tiny as it may be. Among its offerings is a nicely-curated selection of literary fiction, along with mystery/noir, poetry, martial arts, erotica, drama and history. We’re quite fond of the large collection of pulp fiction (and we ain’t talking about the Tarantino movie.)
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
In 2007, a former events coordinator at McNally Jackson won the Brooklyn Business Library’s business plan competition. A few months later she joined forces with another former bookseller, and Greenlight Bookstore was born—the community-minded bookstore Fort Greene never knew it needed but now can’t live without.
28 Adams Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
What began as a critically acclaimed publishing house in 1995 has since morphed into an art gallery, event venue, community gathering space, “laboratory for creative thought,” and, oh yeah, a terrific bookstore in DUMBO. Like the namesake publishing house, the bookstore focuses on pop culture, fine art, photography, and newsy trends — in fact, much of the stock comes directly from the publishing house. There’s also a kid-focused sister store in South Slope, complete with gallery space, book clubs, author events, and story times.
600 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
If you’re wondering, the books at Unnameable Books are indeed nameable and readable and browsable and purchasable. Outside of the Prospect Heights store, you’ll find oversized books, generally retailing for less than a cup of coffee or ice cream cone at the excellent Ample Hills — located right across the street. Inside, you’ll find both new and used books, with a particular emphasis on poetry. In that light, here’s a haiku we wrote about it: Books, books, and more books / Unnameable Books sells books / And we love it so.
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Located in Greenpoint, WORD Brooklyn packs plenty of books into its small(ish) space (just 1000 square feet). You’ll find cookbooks, kids’ books, and lots of fiction, especially paperbacks. If classics are your thing, join the Classics Book Group (other book groups focus on romance, Gilmore Girls, and music writing). The shop has an events space downstairs, but WORD also hosts author readings and other events around town, including the WORD outpost in Jersey City. Know a budding reader? Host his/her next birthday party here, complete with story time and crafts.