The 21st century hasn’t always been kind to New York’s bookstores. Megastores Barnes & Nobles and Borders forced many independent shops to close their doors, only to lose many of their locations as more shoppers turned to online retailers.
Though not all the city’s bookstores have survived the digital age (between 2000 and 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan fell by 30 percent), New York’s bookworms have kept afloat a number of independent stores. A list of all of the city’s fabulous stores would go on for pages, but here are some of our favorites.
| Book Culture |
Despite having three locations across the city, Book Culture maintains a community feel. Its primary location’s proximity to Columbia University means the selection is academically inclined, but the selection is diverse enough to give you a reason to go to Morningside Heights.
| Strand Bookstore |
Spend a day on New York’s streets and subways and you’re bound to see a dozen tote bags emblazoned with the word “Strand.” Such is New York’s love for this massive purveyor of books, which, as many of those tote bags will let you know, proudly boasts “18 miles of books.”
| Three Lives |
Small but mighty, Three Lives is a West Village institution. It’s the antithesis of Barnes & Noble; instead of carrying every bestseller and classic under the sun, Three Lives has a carefully curated selection paperbacks and hardbacks. Even the most voracious reader is sure to find a few surprises in the selection here.
| Housing Works Bookstore Café |
Not everything in Soho is glitz and glam. All of the proceeds from this down to earth shop go toward support for those living with HIV/AIDS, and with books available for as little as a dollar you’ve no reason not make a purchase. Housing Works also regularly hosts events like The Moth.
| McNally Jackson |
McNally Jackson has (almost) the entire spectrum of book creation under its roof; writers stop in its café to write the next great novel, its Espresso Book Machine lets writers self-publish their works, and of course it sells a vast array of the final product.
| Bluestockings |
For books on feminism, race studies, queer theory, activism and so much more, Bluestockings has you covered. Where else in town can you shop books, zines and alternative menstrual products all in one stop? Be sure to stop by and make a purchase so the volunteer-run bookstore and café doesn’t turn into a frozen yogurt shop.
| Book Court |
BookCourt has been a mainstay of Cobble Hill long before the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification. Since its inauguration in 1981, the store has expanded multiple times, allowing it to sell more books and host more events. If you’re not sure what to read next, ask the exceptionally friendly staff for suggestions.
| Molasses Books |
Used bookstores aren’t usually the kind of place to stay open until midnight, hosts DJs and serve wine and beer, but this is Bushwick after all. Day and night locals stop into Molasses Books to have a coffee or a drink, use the free Wi-Fi and peruse the excellent selection of cheap books.
| Greenlight Bookstore |
Hidden away in Fort Greene, Greenlight Bookstore is the quintessential neighborhood shop, with friendly staff, a smart selection and a plethora of events and readings. Greenlight also works closely with many local authors, many of who will autograph books purchased at the store.New York