We can’t deny our love for New York City, and apparently neither can many others–it’s the most written about city in the world! NYC serves as the location for 80,000 books, but beyond that it’s also filled to the brim with books itself. The opportunities to wander through bookstores and get lost in a good story are endless–and the city’s many independent bookstores, more prevalent chains, and specialty bookshops are proof of that. But enough talking–let’s get down to the reading! Here are some of the best bookstores in NYC:
1. Cafe con Libros, Crown Heights
Cafe con Libros, which means “coffee with books,” is an Intersectional Feminist community bookstore and coffee shop. The Black-owned bookshop brings together a carefully curated choice of books, programming, and tasty coffee to create a vibrant community space for everyone to feel celebrated, especially “womxn-identified folx.”
📍 724 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn
2. Sweet Pickle Books, LES
Probably one of the quirkiest bookstores in Manhattan is Sweet Pickle Books, which lets you trade your books in for a jar of pickles! I mean, it’s a pretty big dill–that’s why they received a Secret NYC Stamp of Approval! The shop is bursting from the seams with fun and quirky energy, from adorable signs to pickle jars tucked between books. It’s definitely a must visit, but fair warning–while delicious, the pickles are a bit on the spicy side! Read more about Sweet Pickle Books here.
📍 47 Orchard St
3. Book Club Bar, East Village
Sticking to the thinking-out-of-the-box trend, this local independent bookstore is also home to a bar where you can enjoy wine, beer, and snacks in between chapters! The store spans one large floor, filled with tons of bookshelves, a long wooden bar, and plenty of comfy seating so you can curl up with your next read. Learn more about it here.
📍 197 E 3rd St
4. McNally Jackson, Multiple Locations
The classic NYC independent bookseller, McNally Jackson, quickly became beloved in the NYC literary scene after being founded in 2004 by Sarah McNally and is one of the best bookstores in NYC. Going strong for over 15 years, the brand has grown to have five different locations around NYC and is a staple in the average New York City book lover’s world.
📍 Multiple Locations
5. The Strand, Multiple Locations
Easily one of NYC’s most iconic bookstores is The Strand, which was born in 1927 on Fourth Avenue on what was then called “Book Row”–an area which covered six city blocks and contained 48 bookstores! Today, The Strand carries over 2.5 million used, new, and rare books in every genre you could imagine and is known as one of the best bookstores in NYC.
📍 Multiple Locations
6. Bluestockings, LES
Bluestockings is a worker-owned community space and bookstore that focuses on abolition feminism, solidarity, and transformative justice practices. Beyond selling books that explore topics such as race, gender, and climate change, they also host a wide range of events, such as an LGBTQ+ book crawl each June and a Halloween book crawl!
📍 116 Suffolk St
7. Community Bookstore, Park Slope
Serving Park Slope since 1971, one of our favorite bookstores in Brooklyn is Community Bookstore, which also happens to be Brooklyn’s oldest operating bookstore. They offer an array of new titles for adults & children and employ a highly knowledgable staff. P.S. they have their own version of a bodega cat, so they are obviously one of the best bookstores in NYC!!!
📍 143 7th Ave, Brooklyn
8. Greenlight Bookstore, Fort Greene
Greenlight Bookstore is a classic independent bookstore that carries titles in all genres. Founded in October 2009, the store hosts carefully curated, community-minded events, such as a kids story time. Beyond their Brooklyn location they also have a sister stationery store, kiosks at partner cultural institutions, and pop-up locations at events throughout the city. (Note: their Flatbush location closed on May 14, 2023).
📍 686 Fulton St, Brooklyn
9. The Corner Bookstore, UES
Founded in 1978, The Corner Bookstore has been serving New Yorker’s literary desires for over three decades. Their selection consists of carefully selected current fiction and nonfiction title, committed to carrying “only the best of the best” of various genres including history, biography, travel, cook books, parenting, poetry, mysteries, and art. Don’t let the size of this bookstore fool you–though on the smaller side, it’s definitely a must-stop shop.
📍 1313 Madison Ave
10. Housing Works Bookstore, Multiple Locations
What makes Housing Works so great is that it’s managed by a determined non-profit whose mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS, and 100% of their profits are donated to the two. Everything here is donated, so while you can’t show up looking for something specific, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by what you do find. Beyond books they also sell other items, such as housewares, DVDs, and vinyls.
📍 Multiple Locations
11. Albertine Books, UES
Albertine Books is located within the French Embassy, so it’s easy to miss. However, a trip here is well worth it. Opened in 2014, it offers the largest collection in the United States of French-language books and translations from French into English. Though small, they’re home to 14,000 books, plus their astrological themed ceiling is gorgeous.
📍 972 5th Ave
12. Astoria Bookshop, Astoria
Queens isn’t home to many independent bookstores, so Astoria Bookshop is definitely a gem. They carry various genres, such as fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, and even have a whole section of books about Astoria and Queens in general. Beyond selling books they also host a slew of events, such as readings, kids story times, and storytelling shows.
📍 36-19 30th St, Queens
13. Rizzoli Bookstore, NoMad
For over fifty years Rizzoli Bookstore has been widely considered one of the foremost independent booksellers in America specializing in illustrated books on architecture, interior design, fashion, photography, cookery, and the fine and applied arts, as well as literature, and foreign language books. Nestled inside of a six story townhouse, they also carry a selection of European magazines and newspapers, compact discs, DVDs, and a selection of note cards and stationery.
📍 1133 Broadway
14. Argosy Book Store, Midtown
Founded in 925, Argosy is the oldest and one of the best bookstores in NYC. They specialize in Americana, modern first editions, autographs, art, photography, and antique maps and prints and also have thousands of books in all other fields of interest. Spread across six floors, it’s filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and gorgeous antique decor. Plus, they’re family-owned and are currently in their third generation of family ownership.
📍 116 East 59th St
15. Books Are Magic, Cobble Hill
Books Are Magic is a family-owned independent bookstore committed to being a welcoming, friendly, and inclusive space for all people. They often host free and affordable events featuring emerging writers as well as long-adored authors and, of course, believe books are magic. The shop is founded by well-known, local author Emma Straub.
📍 225 Smith St, Brooklyn