Books are Magic opened in 2017 and has become an integral part of the Cobble Hill neighbourhood. “I love my bookstore so much. And it means the world to me to have this space that is for everyone in the neighbourhood to come in and use and to feel comfortable in, and to have a quiet experience in,” enthuses Emma. Home to the latest releases in fiction and non-fiction alongside classics, Books are Magic encourages you to linger and learn from the team about books you might not pick up otherwise. There’s weekend storytime for children, panel discussions and readings for adults and even gum balls filled with poetry. True to its name, Emma’s bookstore feels ethereal and otherworldly, where magic just might be possible.
In this turbulent year of lockdowns, Emma feels lucky to have a thriving online business where virtual events are possible. “I recognise that we, as a store and I, as a writer are in a lucky, very privileged position,” she says. “We already had a robust online presence and we already had the ability to sell books via our website so we were able to pivot quickly.” Having said that, Emma admits that there is no replacement for the joy of discovering books in a serendipitous way. “If a book is face out on the shelf or on the table, people will look at it, they will touch it, they will pick it up … it’s a lot harder to make those discoveries by scrolling on the website. It’s not just this mercenary business, that’s not how bookstores work,” she stresses, before adding, “I want a place that feels welcoming to everybody and optimistic. During this year, that’s what I’m trying to hold onto.”
Interview by Andie Cusick.
Photographs by Sam Hillman.
Not local to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn? Discover more about Books are Magic on their website.
Emma wears the Crinkled Cotton Dress and Alpaca Oversized Cardigan.