«Last year, someone submitted a squirrel census, and we bought that». Coping with the digital era, in the words of owner and founder Emma Straub
Books Are Magic in New York
Books Are Magic was born in May 2017 and is home to a plethora of readings, featuring new releases, all-time classics, children literature, poetry, and a hint of oddity, as owner and founder Emma Straub confides. Together with her husband and co-founder Michael Fusco-Straub, Emma lives and works in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Here, the decision to open the bookstore, considered with the care reserved to a child, originated from both a choice and a necessity. «My husband and I opened Books Are Magic because our local bookstore, where I had worked some years earlier, decided to close». It was either to open a bookstore or move to another neighborhood and «opening a bookstore seemed easier» confides Straub.
The bookstore is easy to spot due to its pink mural on black field on the side of the building. Straub admits that they added the mural later «and that was an unexpected smash hit». As for the interior, «we wanted a light space, not crowded and dark, but open and inviting». Ceilings feature an equilibrium of exposed and white wooden beams, while walls equipoise white surfaces and exposed stone. Light fixtures and hanging lamps complete the atmosphere.
Reading in the digital era
Books Are Magic pays extra attention to the younger readers. «We love our little readers the most» admits Straub. The children’s room is «the best room in the store» complete with child-size chairs and cushions for extra comfort during the reading experience. In Straub’s opinion, it is to children that books mean the most. «Ask any kid who had to do school via the computer, the screen is a sorry replacement». Reading in the digital era is a complex matter, but independent bookstores may still thrive. «Selling books online, and shipping books, and finding ways to stay connected to readers who aren’t walking through the door» affirms Straub.
Books Are Magic hosts a profusion of genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cookbooks, memoir, translated literature, art books, «we’ve got it all». Fiction is the top-selling, but what surprised Straub was the cookbooks. «We didn’t know how hungry the neighborhood was». Books Are Magic is also open to book submissions. Straub admits how local authors with a hint of oddity are welcome. «Last year, someone submitted a large, glorious squirrel census, and we bought that».
Lampoon review: The Covid-19 pandemic and future development at Books Are Magic
The interest for a sense of oddity matches the bookstore’s involvement in social and racial justice issues. Books Are Magic’s website mentions several organizations working towards racial justice. Further, readers can make donations and have access to more details on the bookstore’s website. Straub makes no secret of the commitment and her opinion on these delicate times is definitive. «I don’t think there’s anything delicate about it». The exacerbation of the racial profiling and violence cannot be refuted. They may be attributed to the hostile attitude of the current government in regards to social justice issues.
The Covid-19 pandemic blocked all events at the bookstore. Books Are Magic also limit the number of customers inside and the members of the staff on-site as well. But Straub is optimistic. «I must say, I’m amazed at how normal it feels now». Books Are Magic is now hosting many events online. Customers may consult the events calendar for updates on virtual talks. «We are still getting books into people’s hands, and that’s what matters». As for what the future reserves for the bookstore, Straub hopes for «health and happiness for our staff, our customers, our neighbors, and our bookselling colleagues».
Books Are Magic
225 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, United States
Books Are Magic is a local bookstore offering a range of interesting and hard-to-find books, plus readings by authors