Book ’em! BookCourt grows • Brooklyn Paper

Book ’em! BookCourt grows

Mom and pop shop: Henry Zook, Zack Zook, and Mary Gannett out the back of the store in 2007 before one of their many expansions.

A hot spot for the bookish is growing up — and out.

In a bid to increase its nighttime appeal, BookCourt is adding a new café and backyard garden to the rear of its 163 Court St. shop, creating a stage for readings and more space for bookworms to mingle.

“Over the last few years, more single people have moved to the neighborhood and we want to bring them in at night,” said Henry Zook, who opened the store with co-owner Mary Gannett in 1981 and now runs it with Gannett and their 23-year-old son, Zack.

The elder Zook said that they have not ruled out eventually obtaining a license to serve beer and wine at the new café — an addition that would help the store compete with literary nightspots like the KGB Bar in Manhattan or Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg. He credits his son for coming up with that idea.

“He knows more about what young people going out do,” he explained.

Zack Zook — an easygoing, mop-topped storekeeper who grew up in an apartment above the store and can now often be found discussing recent reads over a cigarette on a wooden bench in front of the building — credits BookCourt’s “sophisticated and brilliant” customers for its continued growth, which comes at a time when many similar, independent book shops are struggling to survive.

“We are in touch with what people want to read, in a way that we couldn’t be without so many authors and writers around to talk to and keep up with,” he said.

One of those authors is Jonathan Ames, a novelist and the author of “I Love You More than You Know,” a book of essays published last year.

Ames already regards the bookstore as a hot nighttime spot.

“It’s sort of my equivalent of a favorite watering hole, especially since I don’t have a favorite watering hole.” he said.

Another local writer, Jonathan Lethem, chose the store last year as the exclusive sales location for a book of photographs and essays about Brooklyn called “Patchwork Planet.”

The one-story addition will be built behind the store in a yard once occupied by a greenhouse that was torn down in June. Zack Zook, who calls the store a “third parent,” said he expects the new addition to be complete in September with the café opening soon after.

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