Sadly, these days it’s far more common for an independent bookstore to close, rather than open — even in a book-loving town like New York. Which is why it’s kind of a big deal that Books Are Magic, a new indie spot for readers young and old, opened for business this May. We stopped by the new space; here’s what we found!
Picking Up Where Book Court Left Off
Located on Smith Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Books Are Magic fills a gaping hole created when the area’s beloved, longtime independent bookstore Book Court, shuttered after 35 years last fall. Fortunately, Brooklyn resident, author, and former Book Court employee Emma Straub and her husband Michael Fusco-Straub, didn’t take the loss lightly, and resolved to open a store with the same welcoming spirit in the ‘hood.
What’s in Store
Located at the corner of Smith and Butler, Books are Magic is open and bright, with milk glass light fixtures hanging above central tables displaying new releases and topical reads. Shelves along the perimeter and a few free-standing bookcases house a good selection of fiction and non-fiction, staff picks and other featured titles. Adult bibliophiles will like it here.
Just for Kids
Kids? They’ll love it here. A small staircase at the rear of the front room leads to a welcoming back area created for tiny readers and families. With even higher ceilings and just as much light, the children’s area not only features an impressive selection of books for all ages, it’s also a place that invites kids and families to explore, hang out and enjoy the merchandise.
Make-yourself-at-home touches include a large, comfy couch for sharing a book, an open area with a rug and big, poofy pillows, and a kid-sized reading nook that we’re pretty confident no child can resist. (There’s even a bathroom on the lower level.)
Classics, Current Crazes and Under the Radar Picks
When we stopped by we were fortunate enough to chat with the manager of the kids’ section Abby Rauscher, who explained that a big, welcoming children’s book area — such as the one Book Court cultivated — was part of the BAM plan from the start. (Rauscher is a veteran seller of children’s literature, having worked uptown in the kids’ section of a large chain store.)
A quick tour of the stacks for kids finds featured titles, new releases and notable picture books displayed on a large bookcase; chapter and board books and early reader selections in a freestanding bookcase; a picture book section near the reading cubby, and non-fiction such as science and biography, parenting books and classics in a corridor off the central space.
Yes, you can come to Books Are Magic for the latest in the kid lit scene (the store recently hosted an event with Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri to promote the sequel to the popular Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2), but the store also champions lesser-known titles worth attention.
Rauscher is a big fan of books by British company Flying Eye, which publishes titles that are visually compelling or beautiful with fresh narratives. (Case in point: Wild, a short ditty about a feral little girl who cannot be tamed by her adoptive parents.) Other popular titles at the store include The Journey, which has recently gained attention as a way to discuss the refugee crisis with children, and the YA title The Hate U Give, about a young girl and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Events, Programming & More
A quick look at the Books Are Magic web site reveals a packed schedule of events and readings for adults by both local and big name authors. (Straub herself is hosting an event to celebrate the release of the paperback edition of her book, Modern Lovers, on May 30.)
The kids’ area will also continue to host events and appearances: author Michael Hearst will drop by to read Curious Constructions on June 4, and The Sisters Grimm scribe Michael Buckely will visit June 16. Additional programming for the younger set is in the works, as interest and demand of area families is determined. Keep an eye on the store’s web site’s Events page for the latest happenings.
Books Are Magic
225 Smith St.
Have you visited Books Are Magic yet? Let us know you thoughts in the comments!
— Mimi O’Connor