Emily Books: Brooklyn’s Own Indie-Bookstore

“We decided to start an e-bookstore because we had both, after what seemed to us like a long period of resistance, just started reading e-books. We loved the instant gratification of downloading the book you need THAT SECOND and having it available anyplace, but… it was hard to find some of the books we wanted to read—they either weren’t available as e-books, or there wasn’t a centralized place to buy them. And we didn’t like that we had basically no choice but to support big behemoths instead of our neighborhood bookstores.”

Emily Gould, founder and co-partner with Ruth Curry, of Emily Books, tells us why she wanted to start an indie e-bookstore at a time when independent brick-and-mortar bookstores are frequently struggling. It’s hard to deny that, as a society, we have become accustomed to wanting things—wanting things NOW—and expecting to get them. As problematic as that insatiable need for immediacy is, what’s even more unfortunate is how it impacts local, neighborhood commerce—to wit, how we read books. So, what’s a responsible, local business-supporting, Brooklyn e-book lover supposed to do? Get a subscription to Emily Books, that’s what.

The independent, subscription-based e-bookstore just celebrated its first year of business and it provides an engaging alternative to all the big corporations who are doing just fine without additional customers. Emily Books separates itself from other e-book stores by curating its selection based on specific criteria Gould and Curry established early on. Gould tells us, “We just thought we’d pick books we loved that not enough people knew about. We didn’t know our project would have a radical, activist, feminist streak until we’d been in business a few months, when it became clear that we were building a utopian alternate-universe bestseller list—a syllabus for readers who are curious about the best transgressive, funny, gripping memoir and fiction written by every kind of person other than heterosexual men.”

With lesser-known but acclaimed titles like Glory Goes and Gets Some by Emily Carter and Making Scenes by Adrienne Eisen—which are both described by Gould as being “sui generis, miracle books”—in their catalogue, Emily Books offers its readers the unique opportunity to do what Gould feels is “the entire point of reading, [which is to] inhabit someone else’s subjectivity.” And the best part of running an independent e-bookstore? For Gould, it’s the time at the end of the month when she gets to “send a letter to a writer [she] admire[s] that says ‘We are pleased to inform you that we sold X copies of your book, and here’s a check.’ It’s a really good way of writing fan mail. I recommend it to everyone.”

Photo Matt Feddersen


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