The Vibe: Kid- and casual-browser-friendly. Its recent renovation—closing off the stuffy downstairs in favor of an airy, skylit back room—cements its dominance in Cobble Hill.
The Crowd: The Brooklyntelligentsia and their precocious toddlers.
Bonus Points: Personalized staff pics, a local-themed section, a large children’s area, and 20 percent off all store best sellers make up for a not-terribly-unpredictable selection. 163 Court St., Cobble Hill; 718-875-3677.
SPOONBILL & SUGARTOWN
The Crowd: Chunky-glasses-wearing, thirtysomething trendsters. The Vibe: Busy, buzzy, and a little sceney.
Specialties: New and used coffee-table-size art and architecture books, including a deep used-book collection; hot literary paperbacks fill a center table.
Sample Find: Grow Your Own House: Simón Vélez and Bamboo Architecture. 218 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg; 718-387-7322.
FREEBIRD BOOKS & GOODS
The Vibe: Quiet, cozy, and a little dusty.
Specialties: Used classics, plus tiny-press novels and campy fifties manuals.
Why It’s Worth the Trip: New owner Peter Miller, director of publicity at Bloomsbury, knows how to lure warm bodies beyond the BQE. Coming events include the regular “postapocalyptic book club,” a play-by-play analysis from the basketball bloggers behind FreeDarko, and a C. S. Lewis party with the store’s backyard transformed into Narnia. 123 Columbia St., Cobble Hill; 718-643-8484.
The Crowd: Literary nerds and just nerds.
Specialties: Comics, but also some framed panels and reissued strips. The stock ranges from Marvel monthlies to obscure literary graphic fare, with frequent signings and events.
Sample Find: Jews in America: A Cartoon History, by David Gantz. 208 Smith St., Cobble Hill; 718-797-1348.
Queens and Staten Island
The Crowd: Greek old-timers, bookish gentrifiers.
The Vibe: The nation’s most diverse county deserves a bookstore like this—chaotic, democratic, polyglot, and cheerfully no-frills.
Specialties: Walls of Greek- and English-language books, plus Rick Warren in Spanish, Thomas Mann in German, and an astounding array of pulp science fiction (like the complete Star Trek paperback series). 33-18 Broadway, Astoria; 718-267-7929.
EVERYTHING GOES BOOK CAFE
The Vibe: Owned and operated by members of the Ganas commune, the compact used-books stop—a short walk from the ferry—is best described as “post-crunchy.”
Specialties: Ecology and philosophy are well represented, but there’s also a selection of luridly titled fifties pulps and a back room of vintage LPs.
Sample Finds: A box of Steinem-era Ms. magazines; Frank Capra’s 1971 autobiography, The Name Above the Title; out-of-print Dungeons & Dragons guides. 208 Bay St., Staten Island; 718-447-8256.