We’re Losing BookCourt, but Relief May be in Sight

The news that BookCourt, a superb independent bookstore on Court Street between Pacific and Dean, will, as reported by Gothamist, close on December 31, hit me with a gut punch equivalent to that I suffered with the closing of Capulet’s on Montague in the mid 1980s. I’ve spent many a happy hour browsing in BookCourt, using the comfortable seating provided to page through, and selectively read, books that I often then bought. I also enjoyed many talks by authors under the skylight there.

An addendum to the Gothamist story, linked above, gives some hope that our area will not be denied the pleasures of an independent bookstore for long. Local author Emma Straub “and husband Michael Fusco-Straub have secured initial funding for a bookstore in the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill area in hopes of replacing BookCourt”. While this venture is far from fruition now, you can follow their progress here.

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  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Claude, I couldn’t agree move with your appreciation of this great bookstore. In fact, I just bought Nancy Webster’s book on Brooklyn Bridge Park there, a couple of days ago, after searching fruitlessly throughout Manhattan and Barnes & Noble in Brooklyn.


    Also, had the pleasure of attending a book signing there with one of my favorite authors, E.L. Doctorow, before his sad passing.

    I was under the impression that they owned the building in which the store was located.

  • Jorale-man

    Yes, they had a fine stock of books about Brooklyn there. I bought Henrik Korgius’s short but lively book, The Brooklyn Heights Promenade, there a couple years ago. It was a store where you I’d go in with the intent of browsing and leave with several new books to read. Alas, I suspect the lure of Kindle and cheep prices on Amazon/B&N took its toll over the years, despite a loyal clientele. Perhaps this new venture will pan out into something.
    PS- Anyone still remember the used bookstore on Montague, now the storefront health clinic? Hard to believe a bookstore could exist there today, but it wasn’t so long ago.

  • Andrew Porter

    The New York Times article gets one thing wrong: “In the 1990s the block had overgrown vacant lots full of rusting automobiles. … The vacant lots have been replaced by a Starbucks and a high-end grocery store.”

    Yes, I remember the vacant lot at the corner of Atlantic, where Trader Joe’s now sits. Funny, I seem to remember a landmarked bank building there, but not a vacant lot. I left a voice mail with the article’s writer, correcting him.

  • Andrew Porter

    Ooh, you traitor you, linking to Amazon. I never, ever buy books from Amazon. I go to BookCourt. Here’s a link to the book at the publisher’s website:


  • Andrew Porter

    The Montague Street used book store bought injudiciously, and when they moved to Smith Street (which store itself closed after another few years) they left literally a dumpsterful of unwanted paperbacks—all of which they’d paid good money for.

    Then there was PS Bookstore in DUMBO, and, years earlier, the Walden Books on Montague, and another one, on the south side near Clinton, up the stairs where the Japanese restaurant is now.

    And Biblo’s at the corner of Middagh and Hicks, where Jack and Frances Biblo held court over used books and conversation, after Jack had closed up Biblo & Tannen on 4th Avenue in Manhattan.

  • Banet

    The Israeli owner of PS Books worked at Heights Books (the used shop) for years.

    And I don’t think they bough injudiciously — I always saw and bought great books there. Every week there was something I wanted on the new arrivals shelf. I think the dumpster full of books when I moved was simply a response to the fact that the new space was much smaller than the old one and it made no sense to pay money to store the fringes of their inventory.

  • Andrew Porter

    Stop the presses: the BookCourt building has been sold. See:


  • Jorale-man

    Ugh, not a good sign. They’ll probably demolish those quaint historic buildings and put up something out of scale and context there. This line caught my eye especially:

    “The property was marketed as a great opportunity to redevelop into a two-floor ‘retail concept.'”

    I don’t see how you can get a 2-floor retail concept in those 19th century buildings as they currently exist.

  • Roberto

    Is it possible that any more air can be let out of a deflated balloon? The march of the Kindles & its bibliophilic dessert continues to spread… John’s Community Bookstore …. PS Bookstore … Book Court & many others over the years have been removed from our lives. There goes the neighborhood once again.

  • Roberto

    edited comment:

    Is it possible that any more air can be let out of a deflated balloon? The march of the Kindles & its bibliophilic desert continue to spread… John’s Community Bookstore …. PS Bookstore … Book Court & many others over the years have been removed from our lives. There goes the neighborhood once again.

  • Andrew Porter

    When you make a post, there’s an “edit” link (they’re “Edit,” “Reply,” “Share”), so you can change your comment at any time. No need to put an entirely new one in.

  • Roberto

    Andrew, thanks for the note about editing.

  • B.

    Absolutely I remember that terrific used bookshop on Montague — down a small flight of stairs, packed with everything. Before the days of VHS tapes, the only way I could “watch” my favorite movies was to buy the old books they were based on; so there I was purchasing worn, inexpensive hardcover copies of Flotsam (“So Ends Our Night”), The Mortal Storm, Back Street, How Green Was My Valley, The Little Minister, and so on. The next question is, Does anyone remember those movies?

    The owners were nice people. The neighborhood lost something very good when they packed up.

  • Andrew Porter

    I see dead people, and those movies, on Turner Classic Movies.