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Fear not BoCoCa — A Bookstore Grows in Brooklyn

'Books Are Magic' to Open on Smith Street This Spring

February 22, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Best-selling novelist Emma Straub is opening her own independent bookstore Books Are Magic on Smith Street to fill the void of the recently shuttered BookCourt and the Community Bookstore. Photo by Jennifer Bastian

Cobble Hill residents were devastated to hear of the news last spring that after 30 years, the Community Bookstore would be closing its doors.

The area was further saddened by the December announcement that BookCourt, a neighborhood staple since 1981, would also be shuttering.

Following both closures, Brooklyn resident and best-selling novelist Emma Straub vowed to right a wrong, to fill a void and to revive a dying breed.  

She assured residents in a letter written in December that she would open her own independent bookstore and make the neighborhood “positively coated in bookish fairydust for decades to come.”

Two months later, Straub delivered on her word as a sleek storefront bearing the name “Books Are Magic” recently emerged on 225 Smith St. on the corner of Butler Street.

“There’s a need for a bookstore in every community, but specifically in this one: this Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill triangle,” Straub told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I know that I have used BookCourt as my home away from home for many, many years. That includes when I worked there, afterwards and also after having children. I always thought of BookCourt as my living room.

“I know that a lot of other people felt that way also. That yes, it was a place to go and buy books, but more than that, it was a place to go and touch books and look at books and think about books and be surrounded by other people who valued the printed word,” she continued. “I couldn’t deal with the idea of living in a neighborhood that didn’t have a bookstore, in part because I wouldn’t have anywhere to go.”

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The store, which Straub hopes to have open in May, will preserve and utilize many of the same bookshelves from BookCourt.

As for the name, Straub and her husband initially had the idea to open a children’s bookstore, but upon further consideration, decided the neighborhood merited one for all ages.

“We knew that this neighborhood didn’t just need a children’s store; it needs an everybody store,” Straub told the Eagle. “We decided that magic was equal opportunity. Everyone needs magic, and so we thought books are magic for young, old and everyone in between.”

Straub and her spouse searched several neighborhoods for a location, including scouring Court Street and Atlantic Avenue, but her cozy Carroll Gardens corner felt just right.

“The space that we rented really feels like a bookstore,” she said. “It feels cozy and welcoming, and there are lots of nooks and crannies for people to get lost in. It was really just a matter of finding the space that felt right.

“Right now, we care most about making it feel energetic and lively and welcoming and the kid’s section is going to be enormous and wonderful because we have two little kiddos and there’s a lot of other kiddos in this neighborhood that need a place to hang out.”

In the meantime, residents in need of an independent bookstore can spend their time a short walk away perusing the literature-laden corridors of Freebird Books and Goods, a local bookstore complete with antique furniture in the Columbia Street Waterfront District at 123 Columbia St.


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