Indie Bookstores of New York City

A blog about Independent Bookstores in NYC and how they are surviving in the digital age

Tag: Greenlight Bookstore

On the Success of New York City’s Independent Bookstores

I found this article, “5 Reasons Why NYC Bookstores are Doing Better Than You Think,” while searching for new bookstores to explore. As the title suggests, the article discusses the idea that Independent Bookstores – especially those located in New York City – are thriving. I was particularly excited to see that author Nicole Levy referenced several of the bookstores I have visited, including Book Culture, The Strand, and Greenlight Bookstore. She also includes several interesting and pertinent statements from the owners of those bookstores. One particularly relevant thought from Chris Doeblin, owner of Book Culture, relates to the idea that, in part, independent bookstores are thriving because big chains are failing. Levy quotes Doeblin as saying:

“With Borders gone, Barnes & Noble failing, it’s viable for more and more bookstores to be opening, because people are still reading. It’s still a vibrant part of people’s lives and I think there’s an under availability of books in lots of places, certainly in New York City.”

The article is definitely worth the read, but for those short on time, here is the summary.

Independent Bookstores in New York City are thriving because:

  1. Big chain bookstores are slowly going out of business leaving a gap that independent bookstores are more capable of filling.
  2. Experimentation with “new markets” and marketing methods such as pop up shops are leading to better brand and store awareness.
  3. The rising trend is to support communities by shopping locally.
  4. Because of strong community ties, and with the help of a website called IndieBound, Independent bookstores are better equipped to stock what their customers want to read.
  5. Independent bookstores often sell other items besides books and are known for their events, which also help to foster a sense of community for readers.

For the full article please click here.

Greenlight Bookstore

Name: Greenlight Bookstore

Location: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217



Description: Walking into Greenlight Bookstore is like walking back into the 1920’s. The storefront windows are outlined with a rich green trim, which extends over the top and creates arcs in the frosted glass panels above. The inside of the store is spacious, and despite the large display tables dotting the floor, there is still plenty of room to browse. IMG_6765Books are tightly packed on shelves, and some have been stacked sideways to create more room. This arrangement creates a seamless, eye-catching display of colors and shapes to draw a reader’s attention. The center bookshelf maintains the 1920’s feel with large, white support structures that begin to arc over the narrow passageways leading towards the back of the store. The further back you travel, the more there is to discover. The store itself almost feels endless, until you loop around and find yourself back in the main section.

What I Like: The atmosphere of this bookshop is amazing. In part, the unique structure and layout of the store contributes to this atmosphere, but the atmosphere is also enhanced by just how quiet the store is. Despite being filled with people, the store did not feel crowded, and there was very little chatter. The quietness in combination with the seamless flow off books and seemingly section-less shelves creates a serene browsing environment in which it is easy to loose track of time.IMG_6769 The store also sells a great deal of New York City and New York State based books and items all laid out on the inside of one of the store windows. Next to that, is a small corner filled with fliers and local advertisements, demonstrating Greenlight Bookstore’s interest in the community. In addition to supporting the local community, Greenlight Bookstore also supports up and coming writers by showcasing and selling a selection of works that have been independently published.

How they are combatting the pressures of the digital age: Greenlight Bookstore is combating the pressures of the digital age through a mix of different methods.  Perhaps the most effective method is through the various community partnerships they have formed. On the home page of their website is an option to “Find Your School,” which leads the viewer to a page that shows all of the local schools Greenlight Bookstore has partnered with in the past as well as the events they have co-hosted.

Greenlight bookstore also sells a variety of notebooks and store-related merchandise.

Greenlight Bookstore also sells a variety of notebooks and store-related merchandise.

They also have a strong partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and run a kiosk in two locations during BAM events. BAM members also receive a discount on BAM-related merchandise purchased through Greenlight Bookstore. In addition to these partnerships, Greenlight Bookstore has several book groups and a paid subscription service called “The First Editions Club” in which subscribers receive a recently published book each month. Another interesting feature of Greenlight Bookstore’s website is the link to their podcast and their Tumblr page. Their podcast covers material such as author discussions, book reviews, and current releases. Their Tumblr page is a blog that covers material such as progress updates on the renovations of their soon-to-open second location, general event updates, and user generated content such as readers who submitted photos of their bookshelves.

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