Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers

Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers

Photo: Spoonbill and Sugartown

Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Type of Place: Books

You'd think the Bedford Avenue area of Williamsburg would be filled
with independent bookstores. The area (for now at least, though a complete
takeover by Condoland might be imminent) is populated mostly by young
people in the arts, most of whom live in close quarters in shared
apartments and many of whom walk the streets with guitars on their backs. It
has the feel of a just-post-college campus; and what's such a spot
without books? But there aren't that many bookstores around, independent
or otherwise; which makes the existence of Spoonbill and Sugartown
somewhat important.

The shop specializes in books and magazines about "Contemporary Art,
Design, Architecture, Photography, Philosophy, and Literature," which
definitely suits the neighborhood; so do its convenient late-night hours
(10 AM to 10 PM daily) and its policy of buying used books. (The shop
will make housecalls to evaluate them; and drop-offs are accepted "362
days a year"--I'm figuring the exceptions are Christmas, New Year's Day,
and...hmm. Any guesses?)

Art books and journals take up the whole front of the store and are
present in wide variety; journal-wise, there's everything from the stately
"Paris Review" to an indie-film mag called "Stop Smiling." I enjoyed
looking through "A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World," an anthology
of articles from woman-run zines (and a bargain at $9) and "Real Fun:
Polaroids from the Independent Music Landscape," featuring photos of and
from the likes of Spoon, Pavement, the Shins, Wilco, etc. while on
tour ($24.95 with an accompanying CD). The shop's resident cats, Hayes and
Rainer, are featured on cute photo-cards ($2.50). Next year's
calendars are already in; you'll find an arty assortment at reasonable prices.

Speaking of reasonable, the "$3.00 or less" cases offer surprisingly
good choices and quality. I found Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" in very
decent shape and Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" looking almost new.

While browsing, I overheard a shop employee, apparently looking at old
photos, say to another, "I thought I was hot in college, but obviously
I wasn't." OK, so we're not in college anymore; and maybe we weren't as
hot as we thought even when we were there. But however hot your were
or weren't, this shop will give you a taste of the good old liberal-arts
days. And if you were, say, an engineering major, bring your
stable-engineering-paycheck over here immediately for a shot of how the Comp.
Lit? Philosphy double majors lived.

  - Pamela Grossman; Nov 4, 2007

Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers
218 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-7322