Some local bookstores (okay, one) might be shut down by the age-old tale of a New Yorker not wanting to pay their rent, while others are just struggling through the crappy economy. We don’t want to see any of them disappear, but if the thought of shelling out for brand-new books gives you bank-account anxiety, know that your hard-earned money gets you an expertly chosen book and keeps these important community meeting places alive. There’s also often free wine, beer and food at local bookstore events, and that’s far more than we can say for Amazon. With the final death knell of Borders ringing in our ears, and the annual Brooklyn Book Festival already underway, here’s a quick guide to some of the best deals, straight from the mouths of the local bookkeepers themselves:
WHAT DISCOUNTS DO YOU HAVE FOR FALL?
Stephanie Anderson, manager at Word Bookstore in Greenpoint: The books we’re reading for our upcoming book group discussions are always on sale the month before we discuss. For October’s discussions, the books currently on sale are How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu and Fathers And Sons by Ivan Turgenev.
Lena Valencia, events coordinator at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo:
We just held our Skid Sale, which consists of mountains of powerHouse Books titles at up to 90 percent off — don’t fret, it will be back this December. You can always find markdowns on the other side of our staff picks shelf, though.
Stephanie Valdez, owner of Community Bookstore in Park Slope:
While we don’t have a specific sale section, our Frequent Buyers Club gives you a 10 percent discount off everything [see below to find out about joining].
Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting, managers at Greenlight in Fort Greene:
We always discount our staff picks 15 percent (and not to brag, but our staff has pretty great taste in books!). We also host three book clubs in the store on a monthly basis and we discount our book club selections 15 percent. And, if customers register their book clubs with us, we will give them a 15 percent discount on their monthly book club picks as well! Registering book groups and offering them 15 percent off is something nice to offer our customers — and, we hope, a way to bring in new customers! If just one member of a book group is familiar with Greenlight, but they let the rest of their group know they can buy their picks from us at a discount.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND SOME FALL BOOKS THAT ARE TOTALLY WORTH THE COST?
Word: There are a lot of fabulous books coming out this fall. But this book The Louvre: All The Paintings is one of the most fabulous. It comes out in November. It really does have ALL 3,022 of the paintings on permanent display in it, and also comes with a browse-able DVD.
Powerhouse Arena: Some great new paperbacks: This is Not Your City by Caitlin Horrock, C by Tom McCarthy (just out in paperback) and The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin. Also, powerHouse Books’ Live…Suburbia! by Anthony Pappalardo and Max G. Morton is a photo book that chronicles the variety of youth subcultures from 1970-1990 (think: skateboards, mohawks, BMX bikes, KISS, etc.) and it’s only $24.95. We’re having a launch party for it on Sept. 23.
Community Bookstore: Some of our favorite small presses release new books in paperback, making them especially affordable. You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik and How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by Christopher Boucher are terrific reads for just $15.
Greenlight: Two that we’re personally excited about: Fiction, I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck; Nonfiction, Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
WHAT FREE/CHEAP EVENTS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP?
Word: Almost all of our events are free. But there are a couple coming up this month that have extra freebies! For a free tattoo: our event with David Shrigley for his new book What The Hell Are You Doing on Sept. 22 will include him giving Sharpie tattoos to anybody who wants one. One lucky winner will be able to get their Sharpie doodle permanently inked by our friends at East River Tattoo up the street that night. Yes, really!
Powerhouse Arena: Almost all of our events are free, and you can view the whole calendar here. This month we have magazine launch parties with Electric Literature and Tin House (9/15) and Lapham’s Quarterly. In October, Helen DeWitt is launching Lighting Rods, Paul Auster is reading from Sunset Park (10/28), and we’re hosting a Zombie Party with Otto Penzler (10/31) this Halloween. We’ve got readings with Alex Ross (11/8), Nelson George (11/2) and Dennis Cooper (11/15) lined up for November. Besides the enlightening discussions and chance to spend time in the same room as these literary superstars, most of these events also feature free drinks.
Community Bookstore: We especially recommend our 40th Anniversary Reading and Party on Sept. 17, featuring Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer, Siri Hustvedt, Nicole Krauss, Mary Morris and Jon Scieszka. Our events are almost always free and include wine and cheese.
Greenlight: All our events are free! But two upcoming events that we’re especially excited about are: Jeffrey Eugenides’ only indie bookstore appearance in NYC on Oct. 12 and the launch party for Colson Whitehead’s new book Zone One on Wednesday Oct. 19.
WHAT’S YOUR STORE’S BEST-KEPT SECRET?
Word: Our best-kept secret is probably our free book table, because we put it out randomly. When the weather is good and we find ourselves over-run, we put a table out and pile it with books. We usually announce it on Twitter and Facebook and the piles are gone in a few hours. There is also a free book shelf in the basement, which is only open during events. We put the best of the free books there first, so that people who attend our events get the best selection.
We have a new program this year where everyone who attends any event is given the option to enter their name in our event book raffle. Every four months, we raffle off a set of signed books for all the events we had during over that time.
Powerhouse Arena: Our bathrooms! No, seriously! They’re only open during events, but each stall features some amazing murals hand painted by 907 Crew, Abe Lincoln, Jr., Robots Will Kill, 2easae and Ski. In the grand tradition of bathroom stall walls, their work has been modified by some Arena customers as well.
Community Bookstore: Our Frequent Buyers Club effectively gives you 10 percent off. All you have to do is sign up and after you accumulate $100 dollars in purchases, you get $10 off the next sale.
Greenlight: Oh goodness. Best-kept secret. Our staff? Our customers? Is that too cheesy? Because it’s true. We really truly kind of adore our customers — they make doing what we do…really great (and fun).
Brooklyn Book Festival is Sunday. Affiliated, smaller events run all weekend long.
Follow Meredith: @MereOfTheOlsons.