In this day and age, with paperback’s becoming electronic readers and newsprint readership bowing to the Internet, a 40-year-old bookstore is rare.
Although, Ezra Goldstein and Stephanie Valdez, the owners of the , do not know the exact date the shop opened, they do know it was sometime in 1971. They also know how to throw a birthday party.
This Saturday, September 17, at 2 p.m. the festivities will begin with readings by Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, Mary Morris and Jon Scieszka at the on Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street.
“It’s a book lover’s Woodstock!” said Goldstein, while standing among 15 boxes of new books Tuesday morning. “Where else are you ever going to see these great authors all on the same stage, at the same time? It is a rare occurrence in the book world.”
“All of them are our neighborhood rock stars,” Valdez added.
After the reading, a party will follow in the store. And yes, their cat, Tiny, will be roaming the shop as usual, Karrthus, the bearded dragon who eats crickets will be hanging out, and the turtles will be swimming around in the pond in their garden as always.
“It is a unique moment and an occasion we share with the customers, the authors that support us and book-lovers in our neighborhood,” Valdez said, as she pointed out that Park Slope, as a whole, supports their local businesses and fights for them to stay alive. “The community is a big reason why the store has lasted 40 years, making us the oldest independent bookstore in Brooklyn and the oldest bookstore in New York City as a whole.”
The customers, young and old, can usually be found roaming the shelves, sitting on the couch reading or hanging out in the garden. They come here because the Community Bookstore, according to a few customers, is simply the "best place" in their neighborhood to buy books.
“It is an independent bookstore with a great selection. I love their couch and my daughter loves their lizard,” said Robert Weinstock who has been buying books at the 40-year-old store for six years. “This place is part of what makes a neighborhood. It doesn’t feel neighborhood-y to go to .”
Valdez admits it is tough running with the big-leaguers, but they have the work ethic and the patrons to make the staple bookstore stay put.
“It takes a lot of discipline and hard work to run a bookstore this day and age. The book industry is constantly moving and changing,” Valdez said while in the backyard garden. “New York City is a place where there is history and places stick around, but it is also a place where mom-and-pop shops disappear. It is absolutely the devotion of the customers.”
But good reads also give the owners support throughout the years. Goldstein admits his favorite book is “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon. He first read it 35 years ago, but yearns to read it again.
“I thought it was extremely powerful and it keeps coming back to me today because it is about moral responsibility and fighting back against the corporate takeover of political, cultural and social life,” Goldstein explained. “It has deep reverberations about this day in age.”