Though we only hear about the death of independent bookstores in the rest of the U.S., it seems like here in Brooklyn, small bookstores not only survive, but thrive. Why else would a seasoned Manhattan bookstore open a location in Cobble Hill? Idlewild Books will open this Monday, February 1st, though passers-by will note that the shops’ doors have been open for the past week or so. You might wonder how Cobble Hill can support another great bookstore when Book Court and The Community Bookstore do a pretty stellar job. Idlewild Books has a unique niche: they specialize in novels and kids’ books and language classes in French, Spanish and Italian.
Idlewild opened the first store in 2008 in Chelsea on 19th street between 5th and 6th avenue. That location is primarily travel books and world literature. For the past year or so, books in foreign languages were added. A lot of their clients came from Brooklyn and, the owner, David del Vecchio, thought it would be a great idea to open a store here where they would focus on French, Spanish and Italian (even though you will still find English language books about Europe and bilingual books for both kids and adults).
When I asked Idlewild about who has been popping into their store so far, they mentioned that they have had everything “from native speakers of all three languages looking for a good read, to Tintin fans looking to add another title to their collection, to parents looking for bilingual Spanish/English books for their children.”And, for that large French expat community we have in Brooklyn? The Idlewild staff said, “it is early to say who our main clientele will be but francophones and francophiles will probably take the lead.”
As of now the bookshop hasn’t planned any story times but they are considering doing it in the future. They do offer 10-week classes for children ages 7-9 and 10-12 in French and Spanish. They are an introduction to these languages that focus on oral communication and comprehension. The children learn through songs, play, and arts and crafts. They will add more languages, levels and age groups in their spring term starting in April. Their Facebook page has a lot of up-to-date information, including the books they are unpacking each day.