Cobble Hill’s beloved BookCourt closing after 35 years

BookCourt expands — again

That’s all she wrote.

The owners of beloved Cobble Hill book shop BookCourt have sold their Court street storefront and are closing the emporium at the end of the year after 35 years in business, crushing local booklovers who say it will leave a huge hole in the lit-loving neighborhood.

“I’m absolutely devastated,” said George Washington Francis Gaw Jr., a Boerum Hill resident who frequents the store at least once a week. “I think it’s a tremendous loss for the neighborhood … it’s like losing a good friend.”

Owners Henry Zook and Mary Gannett broke the bad news of their retirement on Tuesday. The husband and wife duo opened the store in September 1981 and expanded three times as its popularity grew, most recently opening an event space in 2008, where they hosted big names including Jonathan Lethem, R.L. Stine, Michel Gondry, and Jonathan Franzen.

Zook wouldn’t say who the buyer is and said he doesn’t know who will succeed their mom and pop shop in the two spaces they occupied between Dean and Pacific streets, but customers are already dreading a dull replacement.

Packed in: Lit lovers filled the store for a nine-hour marathon reading by Jonathen Lethem in 2009.
The Brooklyn Paper / Andy Campbell

“It’s really tragic, it’s such a part of the neighborhood,” said Debra Robbins, who has lived in Cobble Hill for 32 years. “I don’t want to see another bank come in here or a nail salon.”

BookCourt is the second loss for Court Street bibliophiles this year — the owner of notoriously cluttered used literary boutique Community Bookstore recently shut up shop after three decades at the corner of Warren Street, also cashing in on the strip’s rising real estate fortunes to the tune of $5.5 million.

BookCourt will remain open for Christmas shopping, and its last day will be Dec. 31.

But the neighborhood might not be without an indie bookstore for long — former BookCourt employee and author Emma Straub announced on her website on Tuesday that she and her husband are planning on opening her own shop in the area called Books Are Magic. She said she has secured some funds and has been looking at spaces, but did not offer any further details on the forthcoming store.

Go do all your Christmas shopping at BookCourt [163 Court St. between Dean and Pacific streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 875–3677, www.bookcourt.com]. Closing Dec. 31.

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.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill