Emma Straub is the latest bestselling author to turn bookstore owner.
“A neighborhood without an independent bookstore is a body without a heart,” wrote Straub and her husband, graphic designer Michael Fusco-Straub, on Tuesday on her website to announce the store. The news that Books Are Magic is in the works came just moments after their neighborhood bookstore, 35-year-old BookCourt in Brooklyn, sent out an announcement that it will close on December 31.
“We’ve been working on [the bookstore] for a few months, Straub told PW. As soon as she learned in October that Mary Gannett and Henry Zook had sold the two buildings that house BookCourt in advance of shutting the store, Straub and her husband wrote to them to ask if they could take over BookCourt.
When that didn’t work out, Straub, who worked at BookCourt and who visits the store with her family as much as four times a week, began looking at spaces. “We couldn’t not do it,” said Straub. “We can’t stomach the idea of living in a neighborhood without a bookstore. It’s too important to me that I can walk to a bookstore.”
Although they haven’t signed a lease yet, Straub and her husband are close and anticipate opening Books Are Magic in April or May 2017 to serve the Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, and Columbia Waterfront area. Given the number of bookstores that Brooklyn already supports, Straub is careful to say, “we’re not trying to horn in on anyone’s territory.” In fact, in addition to discussing their plans with Gannett and Zook, Straub and her husband have also reached out to the owners of Greenlight, WORD Brooklyn, and Community Bookstore, among others. “Everyone’s been so encouraging,” she added.
Books Are Magic will likely open in a 1,500 sq. ft. storefront and have a children’s room like BookCourt, or at least a significant children’s area. As for the rest of the inventory, said Straub, “for the moment our plan is to stock the store as much as we can to satisfy the people in the neighborhood."
Straub said she and her husband have secured initial funding for the bookstore, and then some. In the first two hours after they posted their announcement, Straub said that people came forward to invest and to offer their time and hands.
Although she’s been active in getting the bookstore going, Straub will return to her day job after it opens. Fusco-Straub, who worked at Workman Publishing, which is where the couple met, will run the bookstore.
Other bestselling writers who have opened bookstores include Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, who opened An Unlikely Bookstore & Café in Plainville, Mass., last year; and Ann Patchett, who launched Parnassus Books with Karen Hayes in 2011.