Upon Death of Borders Books, Writer Remembers Heights Books

Entertainment Weekly writer Stephan Lee discusses the death of Borders Books and the world of independent book stores. It includes a shout out to Heights Books on Montague Street (now home to Crumbs cupcake store):

EW.com: While I have fond memories of Borders, there’s a personal touch to a good independent that a chain just can’t replicate. During my first summer in New York City a few years back, when I was interning for a notoriously demanding movie producer, my first assignment was to track down an obscure, out-of-print biography of Carole Lombard by the next day. I couldn’t find it anywhere — none of the used theater bookstores had it, and neither did the online marketplaces. This producer made Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada look tame; he would absolutely be the type to tell me not to come back for my second day without the book, but not before yelling at me and throwing a desktop computer at my head. After a full day of searching dusty Manhattan bookshops and walking into the apartments of strangers from Craigslist who’d claimed to have the book (they didn’t), I returned to my student housing building in Brooklyn Heights sure that I’d be fired and humiliated the next day. After dinner on Montague Street that night, I stopped in a small used bookstore, Heights Books (pictured above, since relocated), and asked the friendly salesperson if they by any chance had the Lombard book, not for one moment thinking they would. The man immediately went to a back corner, moved a few stacks of books around, and presented me with a lovingly used copy of the book I was looking for. For the rest of the summer, I was treated like a super-intern, and I returned to Heights Books many times for their quirky yet broad selection and their actual discounts (Strand, you don’t compare).

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  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Though I have nothing against cupcakes, I still mourn the loss of Heights Books. Its putative successor on Atlantic is now gone as well. BookCourt, which I love, has started doing a small trade in used books, found downstairs. I do sometimes use the “category killer”, Amazon, but I love to hold a book in my hands before buying.

  • AEB

    “Book Court.” Say it soft and it’s almost like praying….

  • GHB

    Heights Books actually moved to Smith Street, but they shut down too. So sad…

  • Andrew Porter

    Heights Books tossed out literally a large dumpster-load of books when they moved, all books which I guess thy decided wouldn’t fit and/or sell in the new location on Smith Street (as GHB notes above). However, by throwing away those books, they were throwing away thousands of dollars which they’d paid for those books in the first place—which tells you something about their business model. Apparently they wasted those thousands of dollars on the wrong stock.

    When Atlantic Books closed, by contrast, there were no books discarded, so they either went to other booksellers or were otherwise sold off.

  • philica

    I loved Heights Books, and was terribly disappointed when they closed down. But I used to live right down the street from Book Court, when I was about 13 or so. That year I started a list of “highlights” from my teenage years and number 3 (right after a New Kids on the Block concert), was “Fell in love with Book Court.” ha!