Feeling restless? Looking to start an argument with your fellow Brooklyn residents, especially those of the bookish bent, of which there are legions? It’s easy. State with enthusiastic authority that So-and-so Bookstore is the best in the borough. “WHAT?!” will be the reaction. “Sure, So-and-so’s not bad, but SO-AND-SO’s got a much better selection, and they have more readings, and the staff is totally hot, and…” Well, you get the idea.
So I’m not about to call either or both of the two powerHouse Brooklyn locations “the best” of anything. But taking into consideration the carefully curated selection of popular new titles, cool art books, bizarre obscurities, first-rate picture books, a wealth of excellent “service” titles (cookbooks, crafting books, all sorts of DIY stuff), then adding on a full slate of all sorts of awesome events, and these are not only wonderful neighborhood resources for DUMBO and Park Slope residents, but they’re also true destination bookstores as well.
Some Background on powerHouse Books and the Bookstores in Brooklyn
Backing up a bit, publisher Daniel Power of powerHouse Books opened up powerHouse Arena in DUMBO some eight years ago, on that great, plaza-like intersection of Main and Water Streets, and it’s been a fixture on the Brooklyn cultural landscape ever since. The cavernous, bi-level Arena–called a “gallery, boutique, book store, performance, and events space” by Power–has hosted countless terrific parties, concerts, shows, readings, and exhibitions over the years, in addition to becoming a must stop-in spot for everyone who loves books. And art. And photography. And typography. And “controlled mayhem”. And did I mention books?
Like all of its immediate neighbors, powerHouse Arena was slammed by superstorm Sandy, with river water reaching 28 inches INSIDE the store. But while, sadly, some DUMBO businesses are struggling to reopen, or done for good (RIP Almondine bakery, and the great restaurant Governor), powerHouse Arena is up and and running a nearly full steam again, its tables piled high with terrific books you’ve never seen before, and an increasingly full slate of upcoming events.
powerHouse on 8th Opened Not Long After Hurricane Sandy
Before Sandy made things nasty for powerHouse Arena, Powers’s most recent venture, powerHouse on 8th, was already in the works, and opened in late November of 2012. Although almost tiny compared to his DUMBO Arena, this pretty space is well-designed, with a cozy, elevated kids area in the back, which gets great light from the windows overlooking someone’s back yard. Needless to say, residents of Park Slope have quickly turned powerHouse on 8th into a regular stop in their book-buying, children-entertaining rounds.
There are lots of grownup books here as well–particularly strong is the cookbook, style, and DIY sections–as well as cute/cool letterpress cards and stationary and such, but powerHouse on 8th’s real strength is in its offering for kids. In fact, pretty much the only events here at powerHouse on 8th bookstore are kid-centric, including story times for toddlers and readings and signings for the older set.
More info about all things powerHouse, including a schedule of upcoming events at powerHouse Arena, can be found on their website. For information on powerHouse on 8th, including all of their events for children, check out their website.