The Etsy Blog

There’s No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books

MP4 YouTubeVimeo Blip.tv Subscribe in iTunes

(Music by The Album Leaf)

I first heard about the secret bookshop, Brazenhead Books, from my friend Rachel Rosenfelt, founder of the literary website The New Inquiry. Rachel described Brazenhead as a mecca for book lovers and as one of those rare New York City gems, an extremely fascinating, yet unknown, spot.

Rachel invited me to a salon being held at the space, and although I’m not a literary type in the traditional sense (I read a ton — just mostly nonfiction), I jumped on the opportunity to visit.

I arrived at the building a little nervous, like I was about to engage in an illegal act. After a short wait I was buzzed upstairs. From the minute I walked in I was in love with the space and knew I wanted to photograph it.

Rachel introduced me to Michael, the owner of Brazenhead and a lifelong bookseller. There was something about Michael’s extremely unpretentious approach to books and his engaging personality that really impressed me. Over a few drinks Michael and I had a conversation about his life as a bookseller and the current state of secondhand shops. I seem to be attracted to people who are extremely dedicated, borderline obsessed, with their passions (probably because I frequently find myself in this realm), and Michael was no exception.

A few weeks later I asked Michael if I could make a short film about his bookstore and to my surprise he said yes. I know for a fact that Michael has turned down multiple interview requests in the past so I was extremely excited by his answer.

Michael is so engaging that I ended up shooting over an hour of just interview footage with him. What you see here is a very small glimpse into his bookshop and his life. What I love about my work is what I learn from my subjects, and I think the most important thing I learned from Michael is how rewarding it is to live your life by your own terms.

While I hope this video translates into a few more book sales for Michael, I also hope his shop remains one of those special, hidden delights New York City has to offer. I also want to thank Rachel at The New Inquiry for all her help and Michael for letting me hang out and try to sum up his life — and bookshop — in 3 short minutes.

Watch More Etsy Videos

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie says:

    Great post!!!

    2 years ago

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts says:

    Fabulous! Reminds me of my favorite used book stop...The Book Barn in Niantic, CT.

    2 years ago

  • BirdaloooBeads

    BirdaloooBeads says:

    An inspiration indeed!!!

    2 years ago

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage says:

    Wonderful! I remember the old Leary's Bookstore in Philadelphia.

    2 years ago

  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages says:

    Great post here....

    2 years ago

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro says:

    Borderline obsessed is a great way to be. I can almost feel the energy of all the lives that delved into those old books. Well done!

    2 years ago

  • VintageScraps

    VintageScraps says:

    Hands down, my favorite places in the world! You go Michael!

    2 years ago

  • ClothandPatina

    ClothandPatina says:

    Very endearing...both the shop & Michael. Thank you for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns says:

    Great article. Thanks

    2 years ago

  • hellflower

    hellflower says:

    Wonderful story, thank you. Some 15 years later I am still heartbroken that my favorite used book store in an old victorian house, run by a husband and wife who probably had been hippies in the younger years, shut down. Bought out for a tiny strip of stores. These special places seem to be fast disappearing. The place served as my haven and showed a scared 18 year old kid she wasn't crazy by serving up Kerouac and Buddhism and so many other things. I can still close my eyes and navigate the place...

    2 years ago

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye says:

    A life lived for the love of books....it's wonderful!

    2 years ago

  • funktionslust

    funktionslust says:

    I love the smell of books, libraries and bookstores...I bet his store smells incredible, especially mingled with the smell of his pipe : )

    2 years ago

  • MarthyMay

    MarthyMay says:

    How beautiful! Loved it!

    2 years ago

  • RareDesign

    RareDesign says:

    Awesome, LOVE secondhand book stores!!!

    2 years ago

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts says:

    Nice story.

    2 years ago

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox says:

    Congratulations Michael. Cheers - to a life well lived.

    2 years ago

  • AlannaRK

    AlannaRK says:

    A secret book shop. My inner bibliophile just took a big sigh of joy. I need to find this place.

    2 years ago

  • NecessiTees

    NecessiTees says:

    I hope places like this never go away!

    2 years ago

  • spicedish

    spicedish says:

    What a FANTASTIC film!! I'm with funktionslust, I adore the smell of old books. What a find.

    2 years ago

  • Challand

    Challand says:

    It looks like a great place to visit off the beaten path!

    2 years ago

  • pillowfactory

    pillowfactory says:

    my husband will love this

    2 years ago

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage says:

    books, books, books. i love books. my house is full of books and this video makes me think i need more :)

    2 years ago

  • Natik

    Natik says:

    Its really amazing....I adore reading and this video really made me excited

    2 years ago

  • MadisonStreetBeauty
  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree says:

    I love second hand book stores (and books in general)! Hours can go by without even knowing! They each have their own special aura in them! If only each book could talk and tell us their story! We have a great second hand book store on 6th Street in New Westminster (Vancouver, Canada)! Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • pinkbijou

    pinkbijou says:

    Great post, i love books too!

    2 years ago

  • SELVIDGEByRachidaS

    SELVIDGEByRachidaS says:

    Whoa, I love this :)

    2 years ago

  • SkippyG

    SkippyG says:

    Does anyone know where this shop is? Or a phone number? I am going to NY soon and Would love to see it!!! Thank you for helping me!

    2 years ago

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak says:

    Great article. Love bookstores where the owners help the shoppers and discuss the books.

    2 years ago

  • ScarletLark

    ScarletLark says:

    What a lovely portrait of a fascinating person and a unique place. Thank you for sharing this.

    2 years ago

  • inbook

    inbook says:

    I want to take a trip to NY just to go here and talk about books.

    2 years ago

  • stockannette

    stockannette says:

    This short film brought tears of joy to my eyes! There is hope for us yet.

    2 years ago

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana says:

    Love reading. It would be great to visit this place someday.

    2 years ago

  • artpapers

    artpapers says:

    I can smell the coziness from here..I luv it! thanks for sharing and I love to see this place one day..

    2 years ago

  • ShoponSherman

    ShoponSherman says:

    I could browse second hand book stores for HOURS. I wish I lived near NYC. Nice video!

    2 years ago

  • starmekcreations

    starmekcreations says:

    I love shopping for books and reading through them.

    2 years ago

  • GardenApothecary

    GardenApothecary says:

    Oh my gosh, this looks fantastic! Thank god for people who run bookshops! xoxox

    2 years ago

  • mamif

    mamif says:

    books are a good obsession!

    2 years ago

  • SoliDeoGloriaSDG

    SoliDeoGloriaSDG says:

    What a lovely little film on a lovely subject ... i adore books - especially old, used books. There is nothing nicer than to curl up in a quiet corner and loose myself in the pages of a good book - that is absolute bliss! So happy for Michael - to do what you love! Continue from strength to strength!

    2 years ago

  • antiquelace23

    antiquelace23 says:

    Wonderful! :)

    2 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 says:

    Ooooo - and is there a secret, sliding, hidden panel in the wall to get in? coz that would be cool. Andrew - nice video. Michael - best of luck to you. Thanks for the peek.

    2 years ago

  • purrkatya

    purrkatya says:

    I love this! There is something so magical about a second-hand bookstore. I could wander for days. And the secret stories behind all of them - the lives that they have passed through.

    2 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Fascinating video, I love how much of an intimate portrait it is not just of the place but the person too. Theres something in the character of people who run second hand bookshops, its a great form of recycling thats so under used.

    2 years ago

  • catiques

    catiques says:

    Superb! Wonderful video

    2 years ago

  • itselemental

    itselemental says:

    As a lover of books and words (and secret spots), here is one word- "Kudos."

    2 years ago

  • Squarekitty

    Squarekitty says:

    Awesome! Here in New Zealand is a fantastic 2nd hand book shop called 'Hard2Find Books'. I LOVE it there and know the manager (plug away haha!). Seriously, it's a great space, all higgildy-piddildy and quirky; narrow staircases and fireplaces, nooks and crannies - have spent many hours in there happily browsing away. Much more intimate than a new bookshop (but I do like those too!). Ahhh for the love of books! Would love to own a place like this one day soon *daydream time... :)

    2 years ago

  • TheQueenoftheNorth

    TheQueenoftheNorth says:

    I love this series of video posts. Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush says:

    Awesome, live life on your own terms! Rewarding indeed ;)

    2 years ago

  • AndrewDavidWatson

    AndrewDavidWatson says:

    Thanks for checking out the short!

    2 years ago

  • smellyrhino

    smellyrhino says:

    Wow. I am actually emotional after watching that video. There is nothing like a good used bookstore. I am so thrilled to see Michael's lifelong passion is still going strong, but even more moved that it is about the love of literature and not the dollar. He will have a new patron in us! Thanks for this article!

    2 years ago

  • smellyrhino

    smellyrhino says:

    um, so...no Etsy shop? I would like to click to buy now...

    2 years ago

  • iluxo

    iluxo says:

    I love the wall to wall bookshelves. Thanks for giving us a peek into this exclusive space.

    2 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    Give me a bookstore any day. Love old books and reading them. Great article!

    2 years ago

  • girliepains

    girliepains says:

    awesome

    2 years ago

  • TheAdornedArticle

    TheAdornedArticle says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous bookstore! Love that I can see a copy of Dorothy Parker in the background!

    2 years ago

  • mimsytoo

    mimsytoo says:

    What a treasure - the secret book store and the video! Thank you!

    2 years ago

  • marylr

    marylr says:

    like the purloined letter!

    2 years ago

  • Furiousdreams

    Furiousdreams says:

    What a great little film - beautiful! And thanks to Michael for keeping one independent bookshop alive....even if a well guarded secret.

    2 years ago

  • whenwer64

    whenwer64 says:

    Did you see anything on illustrator George Stavrinos??

    2 years ago

  • Soul2Hand

    Soul2Hand says:

    Puffing the pipe...very classy ;0)

    2 years ago

  • rbcquilts

    rbcquilts says:

    This space reminds me (in feel, not in design) of my favorite bookstore: The Book Cliffs, in Wabasha, Minnesota.

    2 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    I hope to have my own library someday.

    2 years ago

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen says:

    how absolutely fantastic! loved the intro to this by Andrew and I love what he says about Michael - how rewarding it is to live your life by your own terms. thank you for reminding me that I am allowed to be myself and different! if ever i find myself in NYC i shall ask to visit :) wishing Michael and Andrew the very best!! thanks :)

    2 years ago

  • CrownWillow

    CrownWillow says:

    As an avid reader this post just kept me smiling the whole time. What a true gem Michael is. I find myself watching this video over and over, I just loved everything about it. Comforting and calming, I just wished I lived a little closer. Beautiful story Andrew, well done.

    2 years ago

  • mayhamdan

    mayhamdan says:

    material for a movie for sure.. enchanting and magical..

    2 years ago

  • sceneontv

    sceneontv says:

    Wow, what a great video. I hope Michael and his store can stay 'underground' even after more exposure...he's really keeping the right spirit towards his work and it's quite refreshing. All those books and shelves tell so many stories just by looking at the graceful aging they have gone through Also, what a great choice using The Album Leaf for the music...it's so cinematic, and really adds to the mood. Great job guys.

    2 years ago

  • UpscaleDownhome

    UpscaleDownhome says:

    Such an interesting story and shop and person...I really enjoyed learning about this. Just the idea of a secret book shop is enticing!

    2 years ago

  • JoviesJewels

    JoviesJewels says:

    That was a great story, would love to visit that shop, home! The pictures are the best. Thanks for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField says:

    Nice and crowded :0)

    2 years ago

  • Powerofflower

    Powerofflower says:

    Wonderful post!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign says:

    This is so beautiful. I'm so moved that someone chooses to live in this way and give us so much of himself. It's one of those efforts that sort of restores your faith in people. Lovely.

    2 years ago

  • bayanmary

    bayanmary says:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • faefactory

    faefactory says:

    Oh, how I love the magic of good old story... I think that all great art tells a story; and for every great story told, there is a presence of art. Before I create my art, I have a story in my head, in my spirit. Then I let it come out through my hands and my heart. That is my art.

    2 years ago

  • frommyvintageheArt

    frommyvintageheArt says:

    Wow I would love my own secret shop. My etsy shop just doesn't compare. His passion for books is beautiful.

    2 years ago

  • goldbee

    goldbee says:

    old europe atmosphere..thanks for this post.

    2 years ago

  • BozenaWojtaszek

    BozenaWojtaszek says:

    Wonderful place!

    2 years ago

  • Leocardia

    Leocardia says:

    Unfortunately even in "old europe" the tiny bookshops tend to disappear, as it happened to my favourite one. The rent went up, the sweet lady who "owned" the bookshop could not afford it any more and now it´s a boring shop offering sports fashion. I still miss the old bookshop, where I bought almost every book, I gave to my daughter, when she was a little girl.

    2 years ago

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign says:

    What a great statement : "If it's all about money, there's better things to sell'. This sentence only, shows Michael's love for what he does and has been doing. His familiarity with failure in life as he says it so humbly, turns out to become not such a failure at all, since there are still enough people in this wild and fast world, who adore and admire honest and faithful passion.

    2 years ago

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts says:

    Great article! I love books and its so nice to know there are people out there like him. Congrats!

    2 years ago

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 says:

    What a unique and fascinating person Michael is! Thank-you for sharing that awesome video and story, I would love to visit sometime.

    2 years ago

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie says:

    I have favorite used book stores in several towns and cities around me. Nothing beats browsing for hours (yes, hours) in a dimly lit shop that smells of old books!

    2 years ago

  • RubyJaneandme

    RubyJaneandme says:

    Ah..Old Books...Old smells...browsing and browsing..Bravo, Michael for doing what you love, no matter the financial gain. Long live your shop and you.

    2 years ago

  • StrongylosPhoto

    StrongylosPhoto says:

    Thank you for the post...I felt like I was somewhere magical while watching your video, Andrew. What a charming shop, a wealth of adventures, treasures and inspriation simply waiting their turn for their pages to be gently opened and read. Fascinating owner!

    2 years ago

  • lizardlady

    lizardlady says:

    What a beautiful, evocative film. I love old books and the people who love them! I can imagine the feel of the place, the smell of the books and his pipe, tiny motes of dust in sunbeams, quiet lazy afternoons of browsing and reading snippets before making a selection and rushing home to dive into a new (old) treasure! Fortunately there is still such a place in Columbus - The Book Loft in German Village. I'm going back SOON.

    2 years ago

  • Drawula

    Drawula says:

    Excellent. Give me a good book and a good glass of wine and give it to me, now.

    2 years ago

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy says:

    I'm with Drawula. You had me at old books! Another of my passions....wow, an article on wild foraging, and now secret used book shops! You guys rock.... Heidi

    2 years ago

  • sofias1cobwebmuseum

    sofias1cobwebmuseum says:

    Love the new gadgets but Praise God somebody still is making the old time Book Shoppe available with all the wonderful old books. Hope this never goes out of fashion! Your location was meant to be!

    2 years ago

  • ShuuShuubyLulu

    ShuuShuubyLulu says:

    I love books and if I ever get a chance to get to New York City again, I will definitely be checking out this Oasis. And in this digital and electronic age these types of places need lots of exposure. Thanks for the low-down !!!!!

    2 years ago

  • Piggy

    Piggy says:

    Great video and article. I think with the modern and affluent society and one with mass consumption, there are less and less of such places around. I know of such shops that wouldn't survive in my country bcos of the expensive real estate prices. I admire his passion and principles. Totally inspired.

    2 years ago

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony says:

    there's a magic to old books and secret places...and people just going ahead and doing what they love, though it sounds cliche.

    2 years ago

  • TinfenaStudio

    TinfenaStudio says:

    It almost feel like Farenheit 451where people have to memorize entire books, in Brazenhead, Michael preserve them and readers come to worship... something Kindle will never understand. Great interview !

    2 years ago

  • tokenandpine

    tokenandpine says:

    This is awesome! Go Michael! I love the sense of subversive right action, and the good work he is doing.

    2 years ago

  • hybridhandmade

    hybridhandmade says:

    This is a beautiful film. I watched it a fair few times during the course of today and even ended up today's blog post around it. Great work, great editing, a fascinating snapshot of a unsung hero. http://hybridhandmade.blogspot.com/2011/07/hidden-things.html

    2 years ago

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies says:

    I miss New York. This post made me the city even more. There are so many wonderful resources there. Nice story, Thanks.

    2 years ago

  • EETabbSandifer

    EETabbSandifer says:

    I am in love! Thank you so much for sharing. if I ever am in New York I will have to find this wonderful shop.

    2 years ago

  • thevintageattic10

    thevintageattic10 says:

    Great Interview ! Books and literacey mean so much ! Great photo's as well enjoyed it very much and my fab finds sceamingkettle books on etsy doing a great service to all

    2 years ago

  • aqneru

    aqneru says:

    fantastic story, thanks. So good to know about it…next time in ny:)

    2 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    funny, i have been craving a few hours hidden among dusty, interesting books, in fact just stared at a local used book store sign as i rushed by (yuk, i hate rush) today....this has motivated me, I am doing it this weekend, thank you Michael, good luck to you!

    2 years ago

  • LaCasaGialla

    LaCasaGialla says:

    Seriously cool

    2 years ago

  • CactusCreek

    CactusCreek says:

    I am new to the internet market place and to blogging, so bear with me! I unfortunately didn't discover the luxury of books and reading until I was an adult. Brazenhead book store is the kind of place I luv to hangout. I have many vintage and antique books in my shop as well. Check us out! Thank you, book store is very cool!

    2 years ago

  • BellaandTino

    BellaandTino says:

    Wow love the film, and the secret bookshop is my idea of heaven fantastic and if I'm ever there I would love to visit x

    2 years ago

  • Faeriegael

    Faeriegael says:

    For those of you looking for his shop, please rewatch the video. He mentions his full name near the begining and then at the end explains that the way to find him is the phonebook.

    2 years ago

  • Kate81650

    Kate81650 says:

    This makes me want to cry ~ for the loss of intimacy found in a small neighborhood book store. The very best to you, Michael. Thank you.

    2 years ago

  • BeautyInfusion

    Mary Ryder from BeautyInfusion says:

    PLEASE!!! SOMEONE TELL ME THE ADDRESS!!!!!!!!!!

    1 year ago