The internet age has caused significant damage to Brooklyn’s landscape of bookstores, and the borough’s southern portion is something of a literature desert today. In the past decade, southern Brooklyn has seen its only Borders and Barnes & Noble outlets, both in Kings Plaza, shutter. A few indy spots are still fighting the good fight to get the people their prose out in Bay Ridge, Coney Island and the neighborhoods in-between.
“We’ve put in hard work and we’re happy to still be here,” Christine Freglette, the owner of Bay Ridge’s literary holdout The BookMark Shoppe, told us proudly. She then added that being one of the only book resources in the neighborhood, BookMark is especially pleased to be able to service customers who would otherwise have to leave the community or go online for books.
Of course, you can still get your fill of newspapers and magazines at your local bodega, but hardcovers and paperbacks of more substance are increasingly difficult to come by. Here are some of southern Brooklyn’s final independent book sellers:
The BookMark Shoppe
Address: 8415 3rd Avenue
Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday; open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Known for hosting celebrity book signings (including Guy Fieri and Mario Vitali in the recent past, not to mention one with Tony Bennet coming up in November), The BookMark Shoppe boasts new and used books, a monthly free book club and a variety of other events geared towards writers and readers.
Brooklyn College Book Store
Address: 2900 Bedford Avenue
Hours: Open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Saturdays and Sundays
A basic college bookstore, the shop features curriculum books, staff books by faculty authors and a small section of new bestsellers, as well as office supplies.
Boulevard Books & Café
Address: 7518 13th Avenue
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday
Tatiana Nicoli, owner of Boulevard Books and Cafe, gave up a successful law career to meet the needs of Dyker Heights and follow a passion. A native of the neighborhood, she opened up the book store in 2010 with the intention of it being kid-friendly, including stuffed animals in the kid section to accompany the children as they read. The book shop features a beautiful back garden where adults can sit, relax and read.
Here’s a Bookstore
Address: 1964 Coney Island Avenue
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
This Midwood spot was voted Best Independent Bookstore in New York by the New York Daily News in 2011 (they mistakenly labeled its neighborhood as Sheepshead Bay). Sylvia Levy, owner of Here’s a Book Store at 1964 Coney Island Avenue, says her store is “both the best book store and the worst in the neighborhood,” because it’s the only book shop in the area. It’s the only shop to survive out of six local book stores in the last 35-years, we wrote of the shop in 2011.
Kingsborough Community College bookstore
Address: 2001 Oriental Boulevard
Hours: Open Monday to Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays; closed Saturdays and Sundays
Known as “Kings Books”, this college book shop has a significantly better selection than Brooklyn College when it comes to non-curricular reading.
While the above shops represent the final holdouts of southern Brooklyn’s secular, English language bookstores, the area is teeming with Russian language and Jewish bookshops catering to more specific communities.
As well, Bay Ridge has Galaxy Comics and Gravesend has Pinocchio Discounts for comic books and collectibles. For Russian books, there’s RBC at 269 Brighton Beach Avenue. For Hebrew and religious books and Judaica, there’s Z Berman Books at 4602 17th Avenue and Eichler’s at 1401 Coney Island Avenue, among numerous others.