Introducing Book Hawks, in which we meet the sidewalk booksellers who brave the elements to bring you good reads.
Jen Fisher sells books, which she unpacks from the trunk of her car each day, on the corner of Avenue A and St. Marks Place. Our conversation was punctuated by her exchanges with friends and neighbors as they passed.
How’d you start selling books?
I started selling books five years ago, because I really love people and books and I want to share it with people. Books are very complicated, and they bring a lot of complication and beauty out of people.
I know people’s secrets and they know mine, because that’s what books do. It’s a mystical world. And this is what I do to keep it open.What’s your favorite book?
One of the authors that I respect the most currently is Alice Notley. I saw her read and I saw her pull the energy out of the room and through her body and give it back to people, and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. So I read her books.
What’s the rarest book you’ve ever found?
Frank O’Hara love poems. I drive around the country to buy books…this has taken me to Arizona, Texas.
What’s the biggest challenge in your business?
Everything is challenging. One day it’s gonna be challenging to stand outside when it’s cold, another day because you’re sick…The reason it’s not done a lot is because it’s very difficult to pay your rent this way, but it’s a New York tradition.
What’s something you love about it?
Connection, communication, relationships and community.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen out here?
Ok, let’s take today. Last night I was talking to a friend about different languages and how to learn them, and this morning the first man who came to my table gave me a 30-minute speech on how to learn languages. New York is very powerful that way, in its cosmic energy, if you open yourself up to it.