Book smarts! Greenlight Bookstore expands, defying print obituaries

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s the tale of the little book store that could.

Greenlight Bookstore, which opened three years ago in the middle of the worst era for book sales since the Inquisition, will expand its Fort Greene shop to include more space for events, office clutter and yes, even room for e-books.

Greenlight recently collaborated with wine shop neighbors the Greene Grape to put a coffee bar, a full-sized kitchen and more office space next to the existing bookshop on Fulton Street.

The result will allow for more space for events like book signings and readings. And starting this September, Greenlight will also serve as the kiosk vendor and online distributor of fellow Fort Greene giant, Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Even in an age when print is supposedly dead, there’s no secret to co-owners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting’s success.

“Great independent bookstores are often neighborhood bookstores,” Stockton Bagnulo said. “Figuring out how to serve your community is, I think, one of the keys to long-term success in our business. But a large part of [our success] has to do with Fort Greene. We’ve been fortunate that our community has been hugely supportive.”

Other area print dinosaurs — such as Atlantic Bookshop and DARE Books — have closed, but Greenlight hopes to avoid that fate by being at the vanguard.

Stockton Bagnulo and Fitting will soon go where few bookshops have gone before: they’ll even sell you an e-book, the pixel format that supposedly spelled — in 1s and 0s — the death of the modern bookshop.

Here’s how it works: All you need is a Google Books account, along with a Greenlight account. Then, just browse for books on Greenlight’s website, add an e-book to your cart and check out. The e-books are stored in the cloud, where you can access them from any device with a Google Books app.

“We’re in the business of selling books — not paper,” Bagnulo said. “E-books are another way readers are experiencing books, and we want to be the best bookstore we can be.”

Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200].

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tony from Park Slope says:
Greenlight is, hands down, the best bookstore in the borough.
Sept. 12, 2011, 6:32 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I still prefer Book Court...and $4 for an ice coffee at Greenlight/Greene Grape coffee shop? Please go away!
Sept. 12, 2011, 10:17 am
Greg from Greenpoint says:
I don't think the Google books model for indies is going to work in the long run.

What this article doesn't mention is that if you buy Google ebooks through Greenlight's site they will be significantly more expensive (in most cases) than if you bought them straight from Google.

Basically you are making a charitable contribution to Greenlight. Either indie bookstores will need to convert to nonprofits, or they're done.
Sept. 12, 2011, 11:52 am
Gina Catone from Weston says:
Homework Time With Charlie by Gina Catone is a cute book to stock your shelves with. The perfect back to school book.
Sept. 12, 2011, 2:42 pm
Steve from Fort Greene says:
Glad to see that they're doing well in the time of electronic book sales. Great bookstore! The cafe sells Blue Bottle coffee too! Glad to have both just down the street.
Sept. 13, 2011, 5:25 pm
Ariel from Prospect Heights says:
With all respect for my neighbors, ebooks from major publishers are the exact same price, wherever you buy them, including Greenlight.
Sept. 15, 2011, 5:44 am

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