Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival: Not in Sunset Park, but definitely worth the trip

Sunday was a gorgeous day for the 5th Avenue BID Fair, but I missed it due to my literary leanings. We stopped by the Bibliobus to pick up a dinosaur book, bought a bookish gift for my niece, and checked out the various talks, stalls, and offerings. There were loads of excellent bookstores (many featured here), literary items, and authors, but I'll just elaborate on two reasons to visit other areas of Brooklyn.

Novel-T "Wear Your Read" at the Freebird Books stall (table?) caught my eye. I first, of course, checked out Freebird Books. Who can resist a place that sells Moxie* and hosts student poetry jams (at least they did a couple of years ago)? I haven't been there for a while, but it is always a great stop. The stand was kind of crowded, and having a child-filled sling hampers my pushing and shoving abilities.
That's when I moved to the left and noticed the display in the photo above. These Novel-T people have some pretty cool shirts to sell you. They're not cheap, but they'd make a great gift for someone who loves literature.

Do you know a slightly condescending scrivener? There's a Bartleby t-shirt. Know someone who loves to have fun, but always gets into scrapes? There's a Sawyer t-shirt. And there's a Finn t-shirt for the cooler, less conventionial, adventurous friend. You can also give a (Moby) Dick t-shirt to someone as a mixed message. The only woman (so far) is represented by the Prynne t-shirt. Maybe a Pontellier will come soon, or perhaps Chopin (Kate, not Frederik) is a little less obscure to most.

I'm too dense to know what the numbers on the t-shirts stand for, so feel free to chime in with your ideas. Update: I'm also too dense to remember to plug the launch party for the t-shirts at Freebird Books. This Sunday (9/20/09) from 2 - 5 in the afternoon.

* It's the only place I know that sells Moxie, and my father-in-law drinks Moxie regularly. He doesn't do it because it's novel; he does it because he likes it and he says it's good for you. I need my Moxie cut with seltzer or something less - potent.

Another interesting table/stand was from Word Books out of Greenpoint. There were some excellent children's books and sweet without being saccharine notecards. I first heard about this place here. The owner was incredibly friendly, and everything they had out was thoughtfully chosen, visually enticing, and just fun.

Both Freebird and Word are featured in this slideshow.

It's not easy to make a living at selling books right now (ever?), but don't you think that Sunset Park could use a great independent bookstore? Or even a mediocre one to start? Bay Ridge has a couple (Bookmark Shoppe, Bay Ridge Bookstore - don't know info for this one. On 4th in the 80's), and Park Slope has been losing them like crazy. How amazing would it be to have the Rainbow Cafe and Bookstore? I know I'm dreaming, but seriously, how great would that be?


Sunset Park Autonomous Zone said...

A bookstore would be great, or a bookstore-cafe, or just a cafe where people could hang out and maybe have live music or an open mike once in a while...yes, I'm dreaming too.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a cafe/bookstore would be great. We definitely have enough people/interest to sustain a cafe. We just need a willing business owner.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think this hasn't been tried already? Last place I remember was on 4th ave between 58-59th st. It was called "Southern Culture" referring of course to South American culture. Mostly political and some fiction books, and a place to sit and drink coffee. I never saw anyone in the shop except for the proprietor, a few acquaintances, and the occasional curious white person. After about a year, it closed, and reopened under new management as a store selling gang themed sports clothing. It remains that to this day. One look at the cost of commerical real estate will help you to understand why the bookstore cafe thing hasn't been made to work. The store that does serves a similar purpose in the SP community is the barber shop.

Ohmaykay said...

I've done research on this and I would have to say that Sunset Park would be a tough neighborhood for a bookstore (at least in the minds of investors). But if anyone is willing to invest I'd be more than happy to do the work!

BestViewInBrooklyn said...

Anonymous #2: I wasn't familiar with that bookstore/cafe. Too bad it didn't last.

Anonymous said...

I hear #2's point, but I think something that is primarily a cafe would do well. If neighborhoods like Bed Stuy and Prospect Lefferts Gardens can sustain one or more nice cafes, I think we could too.

Sunset Park Autonomous Zone said...

Well we could sure use something different around here. There's no place to hang out other than the park and it's getting cold.