I have a great fascination for Books and bookstores, and whichever part of the world I am in, I make it a point to visit them there. Though I am partial towards the independent ones, I do visit large chains to immerse myself in the sheer volume and variety of books they have.
Currently, in New York, I have visited several stores, and here is my pick of the 12 best bookstores in NYCwhich I liked the most-
1. The Strand
Named after the famous London Street by the same name, where avant-garde writers like Dickens, Mill and Thackeray once gathered, the Strand is one of the most iconic bookstores in New York City.
Founded in 1927, the Strand is the only remaining bookstore from “Book Row”, a coalition of 48 bookstores that lined Fourth Avenue. All other stores closed during the Great Depression.
Today this large store is home to 2.5 million books spread over 18 miles and is a haven for insatiable bookworms.
Visitors can donate books to the store and peruse them to look for something new. Do spend time exploring the deals on the racks outside. You just might score a deal!!
The store has several locations, but I suggest you visit the flagship store in the East Village.
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
2. The Corner Bookstore
It is a charming bookstore that carries only the best of the best. The store has been around since 1978 and offers a selection of fiction and nonfiction books that have been thoughtfully chosen by the staff. The sections include history, biography, travel, cookbooks, parenting, poetry, mystery and art. It is not a large place, but the small size adds to its charm.
They also have an impressive children’s section where you can find classics and new books that touch on the current goings-on. The bookstore has satisfied the literary needs of New Yorkers for three generations and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Address: 1313 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128
3. McNally Jackson
If you are looking for a charming bookshop in the city, look no further than McNally Jackson. The store was founded in 2004 by Sarah McNally, a former book editor whose parents own Canada’s largest independent bookstore chain. The flagship store is located in the heart of Soho and is an absolute delight.
The three other stores are in Williamsburg, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn. Regardless of location, all stores have a great selection of books ranging from bestsellers to French literature, contemporary poetry, and business. You can easily spend time scanning the well-organised bookshelves.
McNally Jackson is known for its unique book organisation system, with literature from around the world organised on shelves by country.
134 Prince St, New York, NY 10012
4 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038
76 N, 4th St, Unit G Brooklyn, NY 11249
445, Gold St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
4. Books are Magic
The name was the reason why I wanted to visit the store. It is something that I truly believe. Books are indeed Magic; they open your mind to the world like the windows in your house.
Books Are Magic is a Brooklyn-based independent bookstore founded by a well-known local author, Emma Straub.
The store was opened in 2017, shortly after BookCourt, the sole independent bookstore in the neighbourhood, was closed.
The interior is vibrant and cosy, inviting you to spend your day.
Check out their unique subscription services, and don’t miss the book signing events they regularly hold.
Address: 225 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Rizzoli is an independent NYC bookstore that boasts beautiful mahogany bookshelves filled to the brim with an extensive selection of books spanning a wide range of topics. When you walk in, the black-and-white tiled floors, painted walls, shelves and chandeliers make you feel you have stepped back in time. The store has that Old World feel to it.
Rizzoli takes the lead in its vast selection of illustrated coffee table books. The reason for this is that Rizzoli is a world-famous publisher of coffee table books.
Originally from Italy, Rizzoli chose New York City as their sole US location.
Address: 1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
This cute little bookstore was the first one I visited in Jersey City. This independent bookstore has an impressive collection of books on literature, poetry, philosophy, history, fiction and drama.
They have an in-house café for you to read your newly-purchased book and also an excellent collection of gift cards.
26 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY11222
29 McWilliams Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07302
7. Greenlight Bookstore
The store was founded in 2009 by two women from the publishing world who wanted the bookstore to become a community hub for the neighbourhood. And this is what it has become with a wide array of interesting events for the people around, including author discussions, book signings and discussions on interesting topics.
With its attractive window display, the bookstore grabs your attention as you walk by and beckons you to come in. Believe me; you won’t be able to resist!
And inside is a relaxing and well-lit place with a fantastic collection of books curated by the founders. The staff is knowledgeable and happy to offer personalised recommendations.
You will walk out of the store with a smile on your face!
686 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Flagship)
632 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
8. Shakespeare & Co
Founded in 1983, Shakespeare and Company has two locations in the city ( Upper East Side & Upper West Side). Although the store shares the name with the iconic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris, this has no connection with the Parisian literary landmark.
The flagship store on the Upper West Side has been serving the neighbourhood for more than twenty years. It was recently renovated to include a beautiful café, and there is also an onsite book machine that spits out a book in no time flat.
One of the unique things about this bookstore is that if they don’t have what you want, they can print it and bind it on demand for you.
939 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065
2020 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
You can’t compile a list of bookstores in New York City without mentioning Argosy Books, the oldest bookstore in the city.
Founded in 1925, Argosy has been serving New Yorkers for almost 100 years.
The store has an old-world charm to it. You step inside, and it seems you have been transported back in time. Between the vintage decor and fascinating book selection, you could spend hours inside.
The store specialises in rare first-edition and out-of-print books and antique maps.
Spanning over six floors, the store boasts floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, sturdy wood ladders, green lamps and the smell of old books.
Address: 116 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022
Albertine is one of the best-hidden bookstores in New York City. Located within the French Embassy, you could easily miss it if you don’t know it’s there.
This bookstore is devoted specifically to French literature but also carries some English titles.
The store is small, but they have made great use of the limited space. They have close to 14,000 books spread over two floors.
The bookstore is a must-see for anyone with the slightest interest in beautiful bookstores in New York City, the language barrier notwithstanding.
It will take you long to get through the entire store. You must not miss the hand-painted celestial ceiling on the second floor. ( one of the most Instagram- worthy spots in New York).
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075
11. Three Lives & Company
This store has been in existence in Greenwich Village since 1968. It is a small store tucked away on Waverly Place and is a must-visit for its great ambience and kind staff. This cute store serves as a reminder of an older New York.
The interior is small and cosy, with creaky wooden floors, warm-toned wooden bookshelves, little nooks, and corners filled with colourful books. And what’s more, the shelves are packed with wall-to-wall books.
Address: 154 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
12. The Mysterious Bookshop
First opened in 1979 in Midtown, this is the country’s oldest mystery specialist bookstore. The fact that this store caters to one particular genre makes it a one-of-a-kind place.
The Mysterious Bookshop specialises in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Thriller, Espionage and Suspense.
The store and its various publishing enterprises are owned and operated by editor and publisher Otto Penzler, who founded the store to fuel his passion for this genre.
You walk into the store and realise how much variety there is in this genre.
Address: 58 Warren St, New York, NY 10007
These are some of the best bookstores in NYC. Although there are a number of big chain stores, nothing can match the charm and intimacy of an independent bookstore.