After 35 Years, Cobble Hill’s Cherished BookCourt To Close; Author Emma Straub Announces Possible Neighborhood Replacement

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Image via Shinya Suzuki / flickr

The independent bookstore institution BookCourt will be closing its doors at the end of this month.

BookCourt owners Mary Gannett and Henry Zook released a statement this morning, writing that “after 35 years of rewarding work, we have made the decision to retire from bookselling and close BookCourt. Our last day of business will be Saturday, December 31, 2016.”

Gannett and Zook opened the store at 163 Court Street (between Dean and Pacific Streets) on September 12, 1981. Since then, the store has grown into a beloved community hub, selling books by independent publishers, hosting readings with local and iconic (sometimes both of those) authors, and specializing in a wide children’s section.

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“I was just at Book Court last week for the Jason Diamond reading and things seemed normal! This is not okay,” said neighbor Justin Fox. “Nothing is okay. Fuck 2016.”

Gannett and Zook credited the neighbors and community for their support throughout the years:

It’s important to note that in addition to your support, BookCourt was able to thrive through economic and industry turbulence because we invested in the neighborhood and the real estate which housed the bookstore. We could not have survived the challenges of rent increases, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon otherwise, and we are thankful that we were able to provide this community with an independent bookstore for many years.

While this news will surely cause great community disappointment, local readers may find comfort in knowing that Brooklyn author Emma Straub and her husband Michael Fusco-Straub have announced they have “secured initial funding and crossed our fingers” to open an independent bookstore in the area,” Straub posted on her website.

“When we found out in early October that BookCourt was going to close at the end of the year, we were truly heartbroken,” wrote Straub. “In addition to being my former employer, and the site of all five of my book launch parties, BookCourt is a part of our daily family life.”

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Emma Straub (Photo Credit: Sara Shatz)

The couple has not announced the whereabouts of their potential future store, which they have called “Books Are Magic.” However, they did reference nearby neighborhoods: “And so, dear Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Waterfront, and beyond…you won’t be lonely for long. Books are magic, and we want to make sure that this neighborhood is positively coated in bookish fairydust for decades to come.”

But for the time being, neighbors have responded to the news with frustration. “BookCourt is not allowed to close. That is not okay I am not okay with this turn of events,” said neighbor Katy Peters.

Straub announced that you can sign up here to receive updates about the future of their plans for the new store.

Gannett and Zook said they will miss the kids, who have been part of BookCourt’s fabric. “We especially want to tell the neighborhood children that we will miss you,” they wrote. “Your enthusiasm has been a big part of what made our jobs and the store so wonderful. Seeing you curled up on the bench, the couch, or on the floor reading, brought joy to all of us every day.”

Straub is hoping to make kids a priority at their new place. “We are working hard to make sure that our children (and yours) have new corners to claim as their own,” she wrote. “Let us know if you have ideas to share, hands to lend, or some magic of your own to add to the mix.”

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