Savings & Discounts

New York's Best Specialty Bookstores

True, it may be difficult to resist the convenience of a purchasing an ebook; under the covers at midnight, you could swiftly download that next book and bam, it’s on your phone or iPad. And even though many brick and mortar stores have (sadly) closed in recent years, New York City is still home to some of the greatest bookstores around. Comedian and New Yorker Jerry Seinfeld once said, "A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." Don’t dismiss the experience of taking time on a Sunday afternoon to visit one of New York City's cherished bookshops, smell the aged, perfumed (or newly printed) pages in your hand, and let your mind drift to thoughts of another time and place.

The Strand

Back in the day, singer/artist Patti Smith used to work at the Strand. Located in Union Square, The Strand’s claim to fame is that it holds 18 miles of books. The sprawling, three floor bookstore, established in 1927, carries new and used books of every genre (including NYC), all at discount prices, including some author-autographed copies. Throughout the year, the Strand hosts a variety of author signings/events. If you’re patient, peruse the constantly refilled $1, $2, $3 dollar bins outside the storefront and find gold. At checkout there is a wide selection of colorful Strand brand tote bags, tshirts mugs, postcards and more, that will make a perfect keepsake token or gift. A must stop for bibliophiles making their first NYC visit, as well as locals making their weekly visit. 828 Broadway, strandbooks.com

Forbidden Planet


Just a couple of blocks away on Broadway from The Strand, Forbidden Planet has been the place to go for those seeking the latest in comics/scifi/manga/horror graphic novels for more than 30 years, with additional stores also in England, Scotland, and Ireland. They also have a huge selection of tshirts to channel your inner geek, collectible toys (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc), posters and cards, and will ship out of New York City. 832 Broadway, fpnyc.com

Rizzoli

When the renowned Rizzoli closed the doors to its 57th Street shop 2014, New Yorkers were sad and skeptical of its return. Established in 1964, the old-world ambience of the six-story bookstore featured an exceptional selection of arthouse books, including hard to find Italian titles. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending. Today, the new Rizzoli flagship is situated in the St. James—a Beaux-Arts building, designed in 1896 by architect Bruce Price. Now located in the NoMad (North Madison Ave) region, Rizzoli is neighbors with other popular hotspots such as Eataly, Marimekko, and Eleven Madison Park. You’ll also find a selection of DVD titles and stationery. 1133 Broadway, rizzolibookstore.com

McNally Jackson

Complete with its own, aromatic coffee and cafe section, McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers (it was a favorite of David Bowie's) is a respite from the bustle of SoHo, great for adults as well as children, perfect for curling up with a good book and a cup of joe. And if you have your own work that you've finally completed, they offer self-publishing services. McNally Jackson is also renowned for its reading series and lovely stationery section. 52 Prince Street, mcnallyjackson.com

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Photo: Shannen Norman

Enjoy a book and give back to a good cause. For the past decade, Downtown’s Housing Works Bookstore Cafe offers continuously stocked shelves of the latest and greatest donated reads, DVDS and music; one hundred percent of the profits go to Housing Works, an organization that helps persons affected by HIV. It also makes a lovely venue to rent out for special occasions, too; actress Anne Hathaway had her engagement party there. 126 Crosby Street, housingworks.org/bookstore

Mysterious Book Shop

Fancy yourself an undercover Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes? Then you need to head over to the Mysterious Book Shop. Located in Tribeca, the shop is the oldest mystery specialist in the United States, featuring a floor-to-ceiling selection of new, used, and collectible crime novels, nonfiction crime and pulpy paperbacks. The store also hosts a series of seven Crime [book] Clubs and signing events. 58 Warren Street, mysteriousbookshop.com

Albertine

Located on the Upper East Side, Albertine, which only opened in 2014, offers the largest selection of contemporary and classic titles (14,000+) in the United States, from 30+ French speaking countries, available in French and English. Albertine is named after the omnipresent and unknowable female character in Marcel Proust’s classic In Search of Lost Time. The elegant two-story shop is situated in the French Embassy, with a welcoming decor filled with comfy sofas beckoning you to lounge and read. Albertine also provides a venue for discussions exploring popular and classical culture through a global lens. 972 5th Avenue, albertine.com

Idlewild Books

While New York City may be the greatest city on Earth, certainly there are more wonderful cities to see! Idlewild Books is just the place where you can consider where to plan your next trip. Located in the Flatiron District, Idlewild specializes in travel books and world literature. It also offers language classes in French, Spanish, Arabic, German, and Italian. The name is taken from the original name for JFK International Airport, before it was renamed in 1963. 12 West 19th Street, idlewildbooks.com

 

About the Author

Linda Sheridan is the Managing Editor for City Guide. She is a lifelong New Yorker, has written for the New York Daily News, and loves travel, writing, music, and space.

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