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New York City's Best Bookstores

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday December 9, 2021

Independent bookstores—the cultural glue that offers shelter from the storm—are still thriving in New York City. Even with the Pandemic, the casualties were surprisingly few, proving once again that New York’s indie bookstores rival what can be found in Paris, Berlin, London and beyond: dedicated, art-centric free-standing bookstores selling artist books and multiples of exceptional variety. Above: McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street

Last year saw the closing of the Aperture Bookstore and Gallery as the bastion of photographic books, prints, and the magazine seeks to refashion itself with a new director, a changing publishing program, and an upcoming move from their Chelsea HQ. New to Chelsea this fall is Harper’s, with two locations, one of which includes the bookstore with its offering of contemporary rarities. Following is the 2021 updated listing of New York's independent booksellers.

 

Downtown

McNally Jackson Books, 4 Fulton Street at South Street Seaport, 52 Prince Street, and 76 N. 4th Street, Williamsburg. Many author events. Also in the lobby at The Shed, 545 West 30th Street. 

Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby Street, NY, NY [below].Used books, movies, music, special events; great coffee and sweets.

Idlewild Bookshop, 170 Seventh Avenue South, at Perry Street, NY, NY. “Wanderlust can be fulfilled at this international bookshop focusing on world travel and languages.”

The Mysterious Bookshop, 55 Warren Street, NY, NY Mystery fiction in all its genres, and British imports.

The ICP Bookstore, 79 Essex Street, NY, NY

Tenement Museum Shop, 97 Orchard Street, NY, NY. Well chosen array of books about New York and New York-themed gifts.

Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street, NY, NY. Politics, feminism, gender-bending titles, café, and events.

The Drawing Center Bookstore, 35 Wooster Street, NY, NY. Small, highly eclectic.

Codex, 1 Bleecker Street, NY, NY.Specializing in literary fiction and art books; live music, and poetry readings.

Clic Bookstore & Gallery, 255 Centre Street, NY, NY. Photography, art, fashion, and celebrities; author events.

New Museum, 235 Bowery, opposite Prince Street, NY, NY. Books, objects, gift items.

Perrotin Store, 130 Orchard Street, NY, NY. Ed. Note: In my Pantheon of beautiful artbook stores, above. Art books, limited editions and artists multiples.

Dashwood Books, 33 Bond Street, between Bowery and Lafayette, NY, NY (below). Photography, including rare editions; author events, Dashwood Books imprint. 

Mercer Street Books & Records, 206 Mercer Street, NY, NY. Out-of-print art books and vinyl LPs.

Karma Gallery Bookstore, 136 East 3rd Street, NY, NY Artists books, art periodicals and catalogues [above]

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, 28 East Second Street, NY, NY. Cookbooks, memoirs, and the occasional tasting.

East Village Books and Records, 99 St. Marks Place, NY, NY. Neighborhood staple for used books & CDs, oddities.

Mast Books, 66 Avenue A, NY, NY. Bright and clean neighborhood bookstore, with affordable used paperbacks along with high-priced out-of-print art books.

Whitney Museum Bookstore, 99 Gansevoort Street, NY, NY. Modern and contemporary American art, gifts.

McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street. Regular author events. Also in the lobby at The Shed, 545 West 30th Street. 

Printed Matter, Inc. at The Swiss Institute, 38 St. Marks Place, NY, NY. Main branch at 231 Eleventh Avenue, NY, NY. Artist books, prints, and limited editions; many events, workshops.

Strand Books, 828 Broadway, NY, NY. The mother of them all.

David Zwirner Books, in gallery 537 West 20th Street, NY, NY. The powerhouse gallery is the only art gallery publisher with major worldwide distribution; the online store is here.

Harper/s Books/Harper/s Chelsea, 534 West 22nd Street, NY, NY. Rare contemporary works.

Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 548 West 22nd Street, NY NY. Housed in the former DIA building, the gallery's current  location includes their bookstore [top and above], which, together with the Roth Bar serves as a  hub for artists, students and the local community, presenting a range of public programs conceived by Hauser & Wirth Publishers with curators, writers and other collaborators.

Printed Matter, Inc., 231 Eleventh Avenue, NY, NY. Artist books, prints, and limited editions; also at The Swiss Institute, 38 St. Marks Place, NY, NY.

192 Books, 192 10th Avenue at 21st Street, NY, NY. Serious reading, art and photography, author events.

St. Marks Comics, 11 St. Marks Place, NY, NY. Flagship for current and vintage comics and toys. Locations downtown and in Brooklyn.

Three Lives & Company, 238 West 10th Street, NY, NY. “A haven for people who read,” and a “neighborhood touchstone.” Still going strong in a new location.

Alabaster Bookshop, 122 4th Avenue, NY, NY. Used and rare, well-chosen art, antiques, and photography.

Bookdummypress pop-up shop, 34A Cooper Square, rare and self-published photobooks. Check website for hours and info.

Carmine Street Comics, 34 Carmine Street, NY, NY. Superheroes, manga, open mic, artist-in-residence, events.

The Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway and 12th Streets, NY, NY. “Eighteen miles of books” – all kinds, new, used, graphic novels, art, design, architecture, celebrities, and 1 buck items on the street; author events.



Rizzoli, on Broadway in the Flatiron District.

Forbidden Planet, 832 Broadway, NY, NY. Cult sci-fi, comics, collectibles.

Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th Street, and 217 West 84th Street NY, NY. Beginning readers through YA; regular schedule of author events.

Idlewild Books, 12 West 19th Street, NY, NY. Specializing in travel guides, world literature, foreign language books, and language courses. Also in Williamsburg.

Forbidden Planet, 832 Broadway, at 13th Street, NY, NY. One stop shopping for avatars and comics freaks.

Posman Books at Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue, NY, NY. Newest of 3 locations, with special children’s section, gifts. Also at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway, NY, NY. The other mother of them all, and still one of NYCs most beautiful bookstores, with regular schedule of author events.

The Old Print Shop, 150 Lexington Avenue, between 28-29th Streets, NY, NY. An art gallery and bookstore specializing in American graphic arts, antiquarian maps, atlases, and contemporary and modern artists books.

McNally Jackson at The Shed, 545West 30th Street, NY, NY 

JHU Comic Books, 32 East 32nd Street, NY, NY.

Midtown Comics Grand Central, 459 Lexington, 2nd floor, NY, NY.


Uptown

The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, NY, NY [above].  New York’s longest-running source for everything on drama, recently rescued by a cohort led by LinManuel Miranda.

Kinokuniya New York, 1073 Sixth Avenue, NY, NY. Japanese and American huge selection, all categories; superb stationery, craft, school supplies.

Bookoff, 49 West 45th Street,NY, NY. Also for Japanophiles: Used books, DVDs, records, collectibles, "for people who don't waste."

MoMA Store, 11 West 53rd Street, NY, NY [left]. Art, design, photography, furnishing, gifts; without doubt, the mother of all museum stores, with two locations inside and a third across the way. 

Argosy Book Store, 116 East 59th Street, NY, NY [above]. Rare and used books, prints, maps, and autographs. 

The New York Public Library Shop, Fifth Avenue between 40-42nd Streets. "Penguin orange" kiosks featuring deluxe paperback literature with fantastic cover art. Located adjacent to the Library Shop.

The Store at Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, NY, NY. Art, design, jewelry, furnishing, and books on these subjects.

Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers, 939 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY. Literary bookstore, newly renovated UES location has Expresso self-publishing service, book club and scheduled events. Textbook buy-and-sell.

Ursus Books & Prints, 699 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor, NY, NY. Art books, rare items, prints.

Gagosian Shop, 976 Madison Avenue, NY, NY. Limited editions, multiples, contemporary artists books, printed matter, objects, gifts. Rare, refined, intriguing [above].

Archivia Books, 993 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY. Architecture, art, design, decorative arts, gardens, interiors.

Westsider Rare & Used Books, 2246 Broadway, near 80th Street, NY, NY. Used, rare, and contemporary fiction, crime, pulp fiction, vinyl LPs, toys, novelties.

Albertine Books, 972 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY [left]. Books in French and English, within the French Embassy; events, children’s programs. My UES favorite, partout.

The Corner Bookstore, 131 Madison Avenue, NY, NY. Neighborhood mainstay; readings; children's program

Logos Bookstore, 1575 York Ave, New York, NY

Books of Wonder, 217 West 84th Street NY, NY. Beginning readers through YA; events.

Museum of the City of New York Store, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, NY, NY. “All things New York City.” Books, photographic prints, gifts.

Book Culture, 53 West 112th Street; 2915 Broadway at 114th Street; 450 Columbus Avenue, NY, NY, and 2 more; please check website. Old school and forward-looking, catering to the academic community and everyone in the neighborhood. 

Word Up Community Bookshop, 2113 Amsterdam Avenue, NY, NY. A multi-language general-interest neighborhood bookshop and art space in Washington Heights; literary readings, music concerts, film screenings workshops etc. for kids and adults.

Brooklyn & Queens

Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Queens, NY. 

Artbook@ MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY. Bleeding edge art and design.

powerHouse Arena, 28 Adams Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Regular book launch events.

Spoonbill & Sugartown, 218 Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY.

Word, 126 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY. Books, gifts, stationery, kids’ stuff, events—including workshops for both writers and readers.

Archestratus, 160 Huron Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY. Foodies' paradise, classes, tastings, bookclubs and more on the Fact and Fiction of Food.

Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (at S. Portland), Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY.

Desert Island, 540 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Books, graphic novels, comics, prints, novelties.

Idlewild Books, 249 Warren Street, Brooklyn, NY. Specializing in travel guides, world literature, foreign language books, and language courses. Also in Manhattan.

McNally Jackson Books, 76 N. 4th Street, Williamsburg; 4 Fulton Street at South Street Seaport, and 52 Prince Street. Many author events. Also in the lobby at The Shed

Book Thug Nation, 100 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Used literary fiction, film, philosophy, graphic novels and more, and events.


Book Thug Nation, Williamsburg

Topos Bookstore Cafe, 788 Woodward Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, NY. Used books in many languages. “We buy and trade used books for $$ or store credit.”

Books Are Magic, 225 Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Owned and operated by former employee of BookCourt; many events, open 7 days.

Cafe Con Libros, 724 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, NY. “Explicitly feminist, with hand-pick titles for kids and adults that focus on female narratives.”

Community Bookstore, 143 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY Community mainstay.

Terrace Books, 242 Prospect Park West, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, NY Bookend of Community Bookstore

Unnameable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Avenue between Dean & St. Mark's, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY. New, used, events.

The BookMark Shoppe, 8415 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY. Events, including knit/crochet Club, customer reviews.

Galaxy Comics Inc, 6823 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY [Bay Ridge]

 

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