Last Updated August 6, 2020
Looking for some of the best bookstores in NYC? If so then this my dear, NYC loving friend is the post for you! Because as a book-loving, card-carrying member of the totally made up nerd herd, I know exactly where all of the best bookshops in NYC are located.
Plus, I’m a born and raised, New York City local who has been living in NYC upwards of twenty years. So, to say I know a thing or two about the Big Apple is definitely the understatement of the century. So, come with me as we frolic through the not-so-mean streets of New York and embark on the literary journey of a lifetime.
Okay, maybe saying, ” the journey of a lifetime” is a bit of an overstatement, but you know what I mean. Because this post is gonna be rad since we’re about to head to the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and even Staten Island to see 25 of the absolute best bookstores in NYC. So, buckle up kids, because it’s gonna be one wicked awesome ride.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Not sure where to stay in NYC? Then check out 414 Hotel (Rooms at this chic, Hell’s Kitchen hotel start at $159 per night and include fridges, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. There’s even a working fireplace in the lobby!), The James New York (Chic, modern rooms at this Soho hotel start at $177 per night and feature high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, plush linens made from natural materials, and more), The Bowery Hotel (Rooms at this 5-star, Nolita hotel start at $300 per night and are cozy, but stylish, with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and more). and Pod 39 (Located in Murray Hill, this pod hotel sits inside a residential home from 1918. Rooms here start at $120 per night and are cozy and outfitted with queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with individual TVs and bedside shelves). However, if you’re looking for a slightly more book-inspired stay while in NYC, then check out the Library Hotel! It has ten floors filled with exquisite guest rooms. Plus, added bonus, each floor of the hotel is actually designed around and dedicated to a different category of the old school, Dewey Decimal Classification System. You know, the one that we used way back when to find books int the library. While you’re here, you can also take in stunning panoramic views of NYC from their rooftop bar or take a picturesque walk along NYC’s immortal, Library Way. Otherwise, you can always enjoy some over-the-top, bookish awesomeness at the Nomad Hotel. It has an enchanting, spiral staircase and rows of books that you can peruse through in their elegantly curated, on-site, library. A gorgeous, two-story space that is fashionable AF and provides hotel guests with ample, Instagram opportunities. And if you can’t actually afford to stay here, then not to worry because you can always visit The Library at the Nomad early in the AM, when the space is quiet and offers patrons a selection of light finger foods as well as coffee, tea, wine, and cocktails (FYI, the space closes to non-hotel guests at 4:00 pm).***
Best Bookstores in NYC: The Bronx
Unlike the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the boogie down Bronx (as I fondly refer to it) doesn’t really have a ton of independent bookstores.
Sure, there are a fair number of religious (owned by religious institutions), university, and college affiliated bookstores in the area. But, I seriously doubt that you’d want to add any of those to your latest and greatest NYC itinerary.
However, the good news is that the Bronx is actually home to one of my all-time favorite NYC bookstores. And as the name suggests, this place is LIT AF!
1. The Lit BarCheck out the amazing assortment of books at The Lit Bar, one of the best bookstores in NYC.
So yeah, if you should ever find yourself in the Bronx and are desperately seeking out some of the best bookstores in NYC, then you NEED to check out this beyond wonderful, Black-owned bookstore.
Because I pinkie promise, there are about 10,000 different reasons why this place rocks.
See, way back when in ye olde 2014, the Bronx Barnes & Noble shut down, leaving the borough with absolutely NO independent bookstores. So Noëlle Santos, who had campaigned for B&N to stay, decided to quit her job and start her very own bookstore.
Seriously, how amazing is that? Fast forward a solid six years and she now runs The Lit Bar, the only independent bookstore in the entire Bronx – a beautiful shop that she has clearly poured her heart and soul into.
That’s why, if diversity is what you seek then, COME HERE.
Sure, you’ll find books that you can find elsewhere here. But, Noëlle definitely makes sure that the majority of books displayed here are by Black authors and various other people of color.
So, stop by, diversify your reading list, open your mind, and find some new favorites that you can share with 10,000 of your favorite besties. Because if you want to read something a bit more unusual, then this is one of the best bookstores in NYC to do so.
Especially since there really is something for everyone here, regardless of if you;re looking for children’s, YA, or adult books, Because no matter what, The Lit. Bar’s got you covered.s.
Plus, they have an on-site cafe here. And let’s be honest, cafes always make bookstores better. Yup, that’s just the facts people.
Address: 131 Alexander Ave, The Bronx, NY 10454
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm and Sunday through Monday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 6 train to 3rd Avenue and 138th Street Station and walk from there. Or, you could take the Bx15 bus to Lincoln Avenue/Bruckner Boulevard and walk to the store from there.
Best Bookstores in NYC: Brooklyn
One of the most iconic things about Brooklyn, and NYC in general, is Coney Island. However, truth be told, there is way more to Brooklyn than this immortal, beachside boardwalk and amusement park.
I mean, there is personality practically oozing out of each and every one of the incredibly diverse and dynamics neighborhoods that call this borough home.
Now, are there hipsters basically EVERYWHERE in Williamsburg and Bushwick? Yes, yes there are since gentrification is a very real problem in many parts of Brooklyn.
But, there’s still so much to love. And one of those things is bookstores! Because some of the absolute best bookstores in NYC are located right here in Brooklyn. Including some super cool, specialty bookstores like the Center for Fiction, which is a total book lovers paradise!
PLUS, you’ll find a cool AF art bookstore here that is located right around the corner from one of my FAVE bakeries of all time And yes, a stop at this bakery is a total must when you visit this aforementioned bookstore.
2. Berl’s Poetry Shop
Berl’s Poetry Shop is a godsend if you love poetry. And when it comes to specialty NYC bookstores, this is definitely one of my faves.
I mean, It’s a family-run shop that puts a whole lot of love into everything they do. They also sell nothing but poetry, poetry, and, oh yeah, more poetry. So really, what’s not to love?
Their stock is also exceptional and features a wide array of work done by classic poets like Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, as well as more modern poets (who I’m not cool enough to actually have heard of!) like Shayla Lawson or Sara Deniz Akant.
Plus, they host an array of on-site poetry readings and workshops that are all set inside a wonderfully welcoming and cozy space Staff members are also super helpful and incredibly well-informed and will be happy to answer any question that you’ve EVER had about poetry.
Or, if you’re one of those people out there who isn’t even sure if he or she likes poetry, then they can easily recommend poets to suit your tastes – various literary masters who might be a bit more accessible so that you can get started on your poetic journey.
An aspect of this shop that was super helpful for me since, well, TBH, poetry has always kind of alluded me. And truth be told, I’m still not the biggest fan. But, thanks to Berl’s, it’s definitely grown on me!
So, If you love poetry almost as much as you love breathing, then this is one of the best bookstores in NYC that is kind of made for you!
Address: 141 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 2ish to lateish. Also, open on Tuesday evenings, Monday mornings, and occasionally at other times, by appointment only.
How to Get There: By subway, take the F train to York Street Station and walk to the shop from there. Otherwise, you can take the B67 bus to York Street/Jay Street.
3. Books are Magic
Ever dreamed of owning your own book store? What about being a best-selling author? Well, this woman has managed both!
I know, 100% crazy but totally true. Because this corner book store with a big pink sign out front is owned by best-selling novelist Emma Stroub (and her husband Michael Fusco-Stroub).
Not gonna lie, I’m equal parts jealous and impressed here people.
But, since Emma Straub herself is a book lover, it’s no surprise that this is among the best bookstores in NYC. Because if you step inside for even five minutes, you’ll clearly see her passion for reading (and writing) plastered all over the walls, with quaint little reading nooks for adults and hidey-holes for children everywhere!
They even have their very own merch that you can purchase so that you can take a piece of this exquisite bookshop home with you!
Because as far as bookstores in NYC go, Books Are Magic is the whole package.
Speaking of which, Books Are Magic also has a nifty little subscription service that you can sign up for and the staff here will send you their favorite new releases in the mail, every single month. And as you probably already know, I for one am a huge fan of subscription services, like these amazing travel subscription boxes right here.
And, after you’ve checked out all of their amazing books in-store, you can always sit down and enjoy one of their regular discussions with other authors! Ye to the haw!
Address: 225 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and Sunday, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the F or G train to Bergen Street Station and walk to the store from there. Or, take the B57 bus to Smith Street/Douglass Street and walk from there.
4. Catlands Bookstore
As the sign outside proudly proclaims, Catlands sells books, fashion, and even a bit of esoterica. In this case, that esoterica is spiritual supplies and metaphysical accessories. Which makes total sense since there is a bright neon out front that says, “WITCH SHOP”.
But, fret not because books are definitely a focus. Although, many of the books on sale here are all about spirituality, tarot, Wicca, runes, and similar interests. And while I personally don’t subscribe to any of the aforementioned beliefs, I still love wandering around Catlands and pursuing the merchandise. Especially since they have a wealth of different stones, herbs, and other eclectic items available for purchase.
That being said, my favie fave of them all has to be the tarot cards! I dunno. I just think they’re cool and love how colorful and incredibly unique the different decks are. I also find the vivid representations of unique characters to be super fascinating.
Also, at Catlands, you can actually get your tarot read if a reader is in the store. And yes, I’ve done it before. Like more than once. Because, well, why not? I mean, even if you don’t believe in it it can still be good fun.
Plus, I love that the staff here are just super friendly, knowledgeable, and welcoming to anyone truly interested in what the shop has to offer. So, if you’re just here to troll, you WILL be thrown out since this store is considered a safe space for believers.
Otherwise, everyone here is more than happy to answer any and all of your questions, no matter how dumb or left-field you may think they are.
So yeah, definitely one of my picks for the best bookstores in NYC, especially if you’re into the metaphysical.
Address: 987 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Hours: Open Monday through Friday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm (closed Saturdays and Sundays)
How to Get There: Take the L train to Morgan Avenue Station and walk to the shop from there. Otherwise, you can take bus B57 to Flushing Avenue/Evergreen Avenue.
5. Center for Fiction
“What is this place?” you may be rightly wondering. Welp, it’s basically the ONLY non-profit organization in NYC that is entirely dedicated to the celebration of fiction. So much so that they even provide workshops for and give grants to new, up-and-coming writers.
Talk about living the dream. But wait, time out. is it actually a bookshop? Umm, heck yeah it is. However, it’s also so much more. Which is why all my fellow book nerds out there are going to fall head over heels in love with this place!
PS, this store is also just beyond stunning. I mean, the bookshelves here stretch up to ridiculously high ceilings that make the place look even bigger than it actually is (And spoiler alert, this place s already pretty roomy). Shelves that are jam-packed with any and every book you could think of, as well as a fair few that you’ve probably never heard of too.
This NYC bookstore also features an assortment of titles by authors from around the world. So, all my fellow literary loving, world travelers, feel free to rejoice.
Plus, if you sign up for their wicked awesome, yearly membership, you’ll get primo access to their well-stocked, uber-comfy library on the second floor.
But, do be aware of the fact that no laptops are allowed! Yes, you can have them in your bag, but you just can’t get them out and use them. while in the library since The Center for Fiction is all about unplugging.
No need to be silent though since talking to fellow book lovers is highly encouraged.
Address: 15 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Hours: Open Monday through Tuesday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Curbside Pick-Up Only) and Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (In-Store Browsing & Curbside Pick-Up)
How to Get There: Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Nevin’s Street Station, the A/C trains to Lafayette Avenue Station, or he G train to Fulton Street and walk from there. You can also take the B45/B67 bus to Flatbush Avenue/State Street, or the B25/B26/B38/B52 bus to Fulton Street/Lafayette Avenue.
6. Molasses Books
If you’re craving a cute, local, indie bookshop that oozes charm, then you’ll fall in love with Molasses Books.
Honestly, this definitely seems like a place where you’d meet some of the great writers of our time. Especially since the vibe is super chill, everyone here loves books, and it’s a great place to bring your laptop to attempt to write the next great American novel.
Oh, the dream! Don’t lie, you know you’re working on one, too!
I also love that they always try to support local businesses by selling locally made teas, coffees, and various other drinks. Oh yeah, and they have a cafe. And for real, who doesn’t swoon for a good bookstore cafe? I know I do.
And if all that epicness isn’t enough to sway you, then you’ll be delighted to know that Molasses Books sits right around the corner from a delicious bagel shop.
So yeah, if that doesn’t make it one of the best bookstores in NYC then I don’t know what will. Or am I the only one out there who thinks bagels are a food group and who is beyond addicted to carbs of every shape, color, and variety? On second thought, actually, don’t answer that.
Address: 770 Hart St, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 am and on Sunday from10:00 am to 11:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the M train to Knickerbocker Avenue Station or Central Avenue Station and walk from there. You could also take bus B38 to De Kalb Avenue/Wilson Avenue, or bus B60 to Wilson Avenue/Suydam Street
7. Spoonbill and Sugartown Books
Do you love adorable local bookstores? Are you immensely interested in architecture and/or design? Do you wish it was easier to find more obscure art books? Or, do you constantly buy beautiful bouquets of notebooks and art books and tell yourself you’ll use them but then can’t actually bring yourself to defile them with writing?
Okay yeah, the last one might just be me, to be fair.
But, if any of the other scenarios that I mentioned apply to you then get your butt over to Spoonbill & Sugartown Books!
This place truly feels like a local, mom and pop bookstore. Almost like a little, bookish community right in the heart of Williamsburg. So, it’s no small wonder that this place has more regulars than a normal, NYC coffee shop does.
Plus, the staff here are super duper friendly and knowledgable. And their selection of books is kind of sort of lit too. They also specialise in, as you might have guessed from my previous questions, in art, architecture, and design.
But I’ve found a bit of everything here, including poetry, LGBTQ+, photography, graphic novels, comic strip anthologies, and contemporary literature.
Heck, they even sell a wide array of cute and artsy notebooks, greeting cards, and other stationery items that will make the perfect addition to any home office. Adorbz item that I could easily spend all of my money on if I didn’t need to do fun things like eat or pay rent.
Believe it or not, they also sell an assortment of locally made liquors and spirits with super snazzy literary names. I’ve never tried them since I don’t drink. But, they’d make wicked awesome gifts for any of your bookish friends who do!
Added bonus? This store is also just a hop, skip, and jump away from several other places that I love, including McNally Jackson (another fantastic bookstore if you can’t find what you want here) and Nitehawk cinema ( a great independent cinema that shows a wide range of films).
But my FAVORITE of all time has to be Martha’s Country Bakery. Their vegan carrot cake is to die for. Well, as is literally everything else they make. So yeah, go there now, please and thank you so that you can eat ALL the food for me.
Address: 218 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: You can take the L train to Bedford Avenue Station or take the B62 bus to Bedford Avenue/N 5th Street
Best Bookstores in NYC: Manhattan
Manhattan is the borough that is home to the most bookstores on this list.
I’ll also be the first one to admit that this list of the best bookstores in NYC isn’t 100% comprehensive since NYC is HUGE. So, even a lifelong local like me still has a lot more to see, do, and explore.
But, this post is still pretty massive and really shows you that Manhattan definitely has a bookstore for every kind of reader!
One of my friends even said that the bookstores in Manhattan seemed to be a bit more ‘polished’. And while I get where she’s coming from, it’s not true. Because there are plenty of bookstores in Manhattan that feel like homey, down-to-earth, neighborhood mom and pop shops.
Some of which are small, some of which are GIANT, but all of which are awesome. Because from local bookstores to community-based bookstores to unique themed bookstores, Manhattan really does have it all.
So, feel free to swan dive into Manhattan as we explore some of the best bookstores in NYC!
8. Aeon Books
This store is super cute! It’s also hidden away, beneath the street. So, expect to find a quiet, intimate little book store that feels like your very own little reading room!
FYI, this place is new too since this store just opened up in 2018. So yeah, a little less than two years old which is basically a baby!
But, what this place lacks in age it more than makes up for with tons of specialty books on a wide range of topics like literature, art, philosophy, and the occult. Who knows, maybe they have Hogwarts caliber spellbooks too! Ha, if only!
You never know though. Because Aeon Books isn’t your mainstream, run of the mill chain store. Instead, this independent store has older, well-traveled books that cater to all kinds of interests. Plus, they even purchase used books to resell, so there’s always have something new on the shelves.
This also might become your next latest and greatest side hustle. Kidding BTW since they’re not giving people THAT much money for their used books.
Address: 151 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
How to Get There:Take the F train to East Broadway Station or the B?D trains to Grand Street Station and walk from there. You could also take the M9 bus to East Broadway/Pike Street or the M15 bus to Pike Street/Division Street
O-M-G, this place is next-level beautiful. Like, jaw-droppingly so. And, not gonna lie, I definitely want to live here.
“Why?” you may rightly wonder. Well, for starters, part of the ceiling is covered with blue and gold constellations and stars. It’s gorge and I absolutely need more of Albertine in my life.
Plus, as you step inside, the entranceway kind of looks like something straight out of Versailles (I think it’s Venetian style, though? Please don’t ask me for specifics about architecture since I’m clueless with a capital “C”.). Which makes sense since the building that Albertine sits inside is also home to the Cultural Services sector of the US-French Embassy.
Oh, and Albertine actually specializes in French books. That’s why pretty much all of the books sold here are in some way connected to France or the French language. So basically, a visit here is like taking an awesome 3 days in Bordeaux France, just without ever leaving the country.
So, Francophiles rejoice! Because if you need to brush up on your French or are trying to shamelessly enhance your language skills so that you can impress a cute French man during your next solo trip to Paris – and let’s be honest, who ISN’T trying to do that? – then this place should be your first stop.
But don’t worry. There are plenty of books in English too. So, you can do an assortment of super fun things like buy travel memoirs about France, discover new French literature translated into English, or read works from African authors who are writing in French (pieces that are then translated into English).
They also hold special events related to French books and culture. So yeah, pinch me because I think I’ve just died and gone to heaven.
FYI though, you will have to go through a metal detector to get in. But, it’s all god since it’s all part of the experience. It’s worth it just to feel like French royalty for an hour or, er, five.
Because I think it’s safe to say that Albertine is hands down, one of the best bookstores in NYC. Between the beautiful interior and the array of foreign books here that are not always available in traditional American bookstores, this really is the place to go if you love bookstores with the burning passion of a thousand suns. And since you’re reading this post right now, I’m assuming that you probably do.
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sundays.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, or 6 ttrain to 86th Street Station or 77th Street Station and walk to the store from there; Otherwise, you can take the M79-SBS bus to E 79 Street/5 Avenue or the M1, M2, M3, or M4 bus to 5th Avenue/E 77th Street.
10. Argosy Bookstore
Want to combine a bit of history and with your undying love of books? If so then Argosy Bookstore is where it’s at since it is the oldest surviving independent bookstore in NYC.
Seriously, how cool is that? I mean, this place dates all the way back to 1925. So yeah, for nearly one-hundred years this place has been spreading bookish love throughout the local community.
Plus, no joke, this store is freaking HUGE! A behemoth, monster-size bookstore that occupies an entire six-story townhouse.
I mean, who else feels like they’ve just died and gone to a book-inspired eutopia? Although, admittedly, not all of the building is open to the public. The entire edifice also probably isn’t totally brimming over with books. But hey, a girl can dream, though, am I right? Of course, I am!
Now, their book-related specialty is Antiquarian books and out-of-print volumes. So, expect to find an eclectic and exhaustive collection of vintage books when you step inside. That’s why, if the smell of old books makes you go weak in the knees, or if you’re seeking out rare first editions (or really anything a bit more unusual or hard to find) then you’re going to want to add this establishment to your impromptu bookstores of NYC tour.
Did I mention it’s cozy, spacious, and looks like a mini-library? Yup, have those cameras at the ready people because you’re gonna need them.
Address: 116 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and closed on Sundays,
How to Get There:Take the: N, R, or W train to 5th Avenue Station, or the 5, N, Q, or R trains to Lexington Avenue-63 Street Station and walk from there; You can also take the Q32 bus to E 60 Street/Lexington Avenue.
11. Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe, and Activist Center
Oh, this place. Because I basically love EVERYTHING about the Bluestockings Bookstore.
And honestly, can you blame me? Because this is a queer, trans, and sex worker-run bookstore-come-activist center that stocks everything from books about feminism and gender studies to queer lit to books about climate change and environmental activism, political theory, and race studies.
So yeah, if you love equality and want to change the world, this is the bookstore for you! The staff is also lovely AF btw, which makes this store a little extra special.
Oh, and did I mention? All of their food (cause, OF COURSE, they have a cafe!) is fair trade, organic and vegan.
BE STILL MY HEART! Which is why I heartily say, without any reservation, that the Bluestocking Bookstore is one of the BEST bookstores in NYC and you’ll regret it if you don’t visit. Because I firmly believe that we all NEED more bookstores like this in the world. Like, ASAP.
Address: 172 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Hours: Open daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the F train to 2nd Avenue Station, or the M, J, or Z trains to Delancey Street & Essex Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, take the M15 bus to Allen Street/Stanton Street
12. Bonnie Slotnick CookbooksCheck out the wealth of vintage cookbooks for sale at Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks in Manhattan, New York.
Real talk? Anything to do with cooking, baking, and general food preparation beyond throwing together a sandwich is NOT my strong point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally incompetent in the kitchen. I’d just, you know, rather get something delivered since it’s faster, tastes infinitely better, and is likely to result in fewer tears and swear words being thrown around the kitchen.
But, my dreams of Martha Stewart level grandeur are still there. I mean, who DOESN’T wish they could effortlessly bake delicious cupcakes in crazy flavors like key lime, carrot cake, and mint chocolate chip? Or whip up ravioli from scratch in the blink of an eye?
I mean, seriously, who among us hasn’t watched a cooking show and not-so-secretly pretended to be a contestant while pouring a wicked awesome bowl of cereal?
Because if you can relate to the aforementioned scenario even a little bit, then you’re going to love Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks Bookstore.
Will it make you an insta-chef? Sadly no since I’m still no Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen. But, you can still peruse the shelves, mouth-watering as you go, while you work up the courage to buy a special, cuisine-dedicated cookbook to take home and experiment with.
I mean, they literally have just about everything when it comes to cooking. So, whether you want rare cookbooks, old copies of Gourmet magazine, vegan cookbooks, or cookbooks dedicated entirely to Thai cuisine, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for here.
Especially if it’s old since they specialize in “vintage” cookbooks and magazines. Which is why, this glorious business is usually considered one of the best bookstores in NYC for cooking enthusiasts, or lovers of themed bookstores in general.
And if nothing else, then come for the beautifully glorious nostalgia since they have a wealth of antique plates and cookery in the store too. Although come to think of it, I’m not 100% sure if these products are actually for sale. But whatever, it’s all good. You can still look at them and feel as though you’re about to sit down for dinner at your grandparent’s house.
Plus, there are several other used bookstores in the area ithat you can check out if you want to go totally bananas level crazy and do all of your book shopping in one day.
Address: 28 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10003
Hours: Open six days a week from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm (the day they close varies from week to week so check out their website for more information).
How to Get There: Take the F train to 2nd Avenue Station, the B, D, M train to Broadway-Lafayette Street Station, or the 4/6 train to Bleecker Street Station and walk to the store from there. You can also take the M15 bus to 2nd Avenue & East 3rd Street or the M21 bus to East Houston Street & 2nd Avenue.
13. Forbidden PlanetSpiderman statues and stacks filled with Manga comics fill the interior of Forbidden Planet in Manhattan. Image taken by JMM of Flickr.com.
Forget books. Pssh…Just kidding!
But on a slightly more serious note, if you can think of it, Forbidden Planet probably sells it. I mean, this place is packed from floor to ceiling with comics, t-shirts, toys, collectibles, action figures, and, DUH, books!
So, if you want to indulge your not-so-inner nerd, then Forbidden Planet will be your idea of heaven.
And in terms of the books themselves, well, they cover super snazzy, slightly nerdy topics like movies, gaming, art, pop culture, and comic book characters, as well as more graphic novels you can shake a stick at.
So why come here? Well, this is definitely one of the best bookstores in NYC for all things geek related since they offer you a glorious celebration of geek culture. And who can blame them? We geeks are pretty dang awesome.
Speaking of pure geekery, you’ll also find everything you could ever dream of when it comes to comics, anime, superheroes, Doctor Who, Marvel, DC, Adventure Time, Harry Potter… and SO MUCH MORE. In addition to basically every single Pop! Doll every made. Something that is a true essential to any and every 90s kid out there.
Plus, the stellar assortment of individuals who call this store their employer have a more in-depth knowledge of geek books and culture than anyone I’ve ever met. Just be sure to tread lightly though since their passion is highly contagious and may lead you into a neverending, fantasy-filled downward spiral into all things geeky awesomeness.
Address: 832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Hours: Open Sunday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, Monday through Tuesday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, Wednesday from 8:00 am to 12:00 am, and Thursday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 am.
How to Get There: You can take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, or W train to 14th Street-Union Square Station. Or, you can take the M1, M2, or M3 bus to 4th Avenue/E 13th Street.
14. Mysterious Bookshop
Not gonna lie, this place is one of THE COOLEST and most unusual things to do in NYC.
After all, where else can you go and embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, pretend to be Philip Marlowe, or discuss your borderline unhealthy love of Hercule Poirot? I mean, that mustache is everything, am I right? Clearly I am since um, hello, Tom Selleck was an absolute legend in the 80s and 90s.
But, per usual, I digress. So, back to The Mysterious Bookshop, which was first opened in 1979 by Otto Penzler, and is dedicated to all things crime, mystery, and espionage. Because I for one love a bit of intrigue in my life and cannot get enough of Jack Ryan, Homeland, etc.
So, if you have an affinity for murder and mayhem and never met a themed bookstore that you didn’t like, then this is absolutely one of the best bookstores in NYC for you. I mean, they entire have areas and bookshelves blocked off with yellow, crime scene tape that reads, “DO NOT CROSS”’. A nice added touch that makes you feel as tough you’re in an episode ID discovery.
And yes that is a very good thing for a self-proclaimed, ID maniac like myself.
Address: 58 Warren St, New York, NY 10007
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and closed on Sundays.
How to Get There: Take the 1, 2, 3, or A/C trains to Chambers Street Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, take the M9 bus to Murray Church Street, or the M22 bus to Chambers Street/W Broadway.
15. Mysterious Time Machine
If you’ve ever wondered what a hardcore comic bookstore might look like, then mosey on over to Mysterious Time Machine. Because this place? Well, they’re about as fantastical about comics as you can get.
So, if you happen to be in the market for an ultra-rare, uber-specific issue of Batman that hasn’t been printed since ye olde 1980, then this is the store you’ve been dreaming of.
Because this place is 100% no joke when it comes to comics. I mean, they even carry copies of various side projects that Marvel dabbled in before becoming A-level, film making afficianados.
So yeah, this place is kind of like a den of debauchery for serious comic book collectors and is definitely one of the best bookstores in NYC for card carrying members of the nerd herd. Besides, comic-loving newcomers and veterans alike all gather here to swap wisdom, share stories, and debate the latest, beyond bizarre fan conspiracy theories. And believe me, everyone’s got one!
That’s why, if you spend even a few minutes browsing through their stacks upon stacks of comic books, you’re sure to find a few hidden gems of sorts – in addition to a whole host of books about characters and superheroes that you probably didn’t even know existed.
Address: 418 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Hours: Open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the A, C, E, B, D, F, or M train to West 4th Street-Washington Square Station, or the 1/2 trains to Christopher Street Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the B99, M8, or M55 bus.
Rizzoli is considered by many to be one of the best independent bookstores in the entire United States. And honestly? I don’t disagree.
I mean, just look at the above picture and you’ll immediately see why this place is so bananas level amazing and one of my top recommendations for THE best bookstores in NYC, Regardless of the occasion.
Because this stellar bookstore features a collection of gorgeous wooden (Oak? Maybe? Again, don’t ask me about architecture!) bookshelves that have this classy, comfy feel to them. Which is why, every time I walk inside I immediately feel like I’m home.
However, this feeling could also have something to do with the store’s calming, beautiful blue walls or the enormous, leather chairs that are just hanging out, waiting for you to sit in them.
Because as you probably already guessed (you total smartie you), this place is also considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in NYC (rivaling the pure majesty of even Albertine, obvi).
So, embrace your posh AF inner diva, grab a shaken, not stirred martini, and elegantly waft through the sea of bookish glory that is Rizzoli’s.
Address: 1133 Broadway, between 25th and 26th Street, New York, NY, 10010
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and closed Sundays.
How to Get There: Take the N, Q, R, or W train to 23rd Street station or the 4, 6, N, Q, R, or W trains to 28th Street station and walk to the store from there. You can also take the BM1, BM2, or BxM18 bus to 5th Avenue/ W 27th Street, or the BM3 or BM4 bus to 5th Avenue/ W 26th Street.
17, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore is another one of the best bookstores in NYC that is also Black owned. The Wilson sisters, Janifer and Kori, actually first opened the bookstore on January 1, 2000, and are still going strong a solid twenty years later.
However, since 2007, this dynamic duo has also run the Sister’s Uptown Cultural Center, which provides free resources to enrich the minds of local community members.
So, yeah, do you really need any more reasons to love this place? Because Sister’s Uptown Bookstore is not only Black-owned and run, but this store also focuses on promoting and uplifting the works of African American authors.
Plus, like many of the other NYC bookstores on this list, Sister’s also has special book-related events. Supre snazzy occasions that celebrate Black authors and creators, many of whom are local! Because Sister’s Uptown Bookstore actually CARES and is all about supporting their local community:
In fact, the entire reason this bookstore was opened in the first place was to bring about positive change in the Washington Height neighborhood. That’s why, it’s really no surprise that every time I come here, it’s always busy and thriving.
And added bonus? This store is also located near several amazing churches. And although none of them made my list of the best churches in NYC, they’re still worth a look if you love exploring churches!
Address: 1942 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10032
Hours: Open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and closed Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday.
How to Get There: Take the A or C train to 155th Street Station or the 1 train to 157 Street Station and walk to the store from there. Or, you could take the M3, M100, or M101 bus to Amsterdam Avenue/W 156th Street.
For some reason, walking through this place always makes me feel like I’m in a stationery store. And I mean that in the best possible way since this place is amazing.
The staff are also super friendly and helpful. A fact that comes in mighty handy since this bookstore consists of 16 miles of books and is next-level big. It’s also a mere hop, skip, and jump away from Union Square and can, as a result, get hella busy and feel more than a little touristy.
Not that that’s a bad thing, it just means that this isn’t exactly your quiet and cozy, shop around the corner. It also, quite literally, sells EVERYTHING you could ever want since they stock well over 2.5 million books.
I mean, did anyone actually know that one NYC bookstore could carry THAT many books? Because I sure as hell didn’t. Besides, the sheer number of books on sale here makes it an instant must-see and easily one of the best bookstores in NYC.
And, fun factoid for you. Strand was actually started by Benjamin Bass, an immigrant from Lithuania, in 1927 (it’s one of the oldest NYC bookstores), and has been in the family ever since.
Which means that this New York institution has been in business for nearly one-hundred years and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (main location, but there is also a pop-up shop and two kiosks)
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with curbside pick available daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, or W trains to 14th Street-Union Square Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the M1, M2, or M3 bus to 4th Avenue/E 13th Street.
19. The Word Up Community Bookshop
The Word Up Community Bookshop is another amazing community bookstore in Washington Heights.
They also have an equally vital dedication to their community since Word Up is a completely, volunteer-run, non for profit organization that provides its customers with new and used books, in both English and Spanish (with books available in some other languages as well), at the most affordable prices possible. So much so that they eve have an awesome little, take-one, leave-one cart.
In addition to books though, Word Up also hosts a ton of different community events that cater to children and that attempt to foster a life-long love of reading. Although, they have been known to sponsor some wicked awesome music events and open mic nights too…whoop, whoop. See, my intense level of anti-coolness is already showing.
But, what I really love about this place is that they have a section dedicated entirely to local authors. An aspect of the store that has allowed me to discover some amazing writers that I’d never even heard of before.
Plus, this bookstore actually maintains a safe space policy to help ensure the safety and mental wellbeing of all its patrons.
So, yeah, this is definitely one of the best bookstores in NYC to visit if you want to support the local community, or if you’re interested in language learning since their language resource section is always pretty dang stellar.
Address: 2113 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10032
Hours: Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Wednesday from 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm; Saturday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm (closed Mondays).
How to Get There: Take the A or C train to 163rd (or 168th) Street Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the M2 bus to W 165th Street/Amsterdam Avenue.
Best Bookstores in NYC: Queens
When I was a kid (way back when, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth) I really really wanted to visit Jamaica because a friend of mine had recently visited and couldn’t stop raving about her swish beach holiday.
Except that I thought she meant the one in NYC…not the one in the Caribbean.
So, when I later forced my parents to take me to Jamaica, NYC, I was SORELY disappointed to find out that this iconic Queens neighborhood was sorely lacking when it came to pristine, sandy white beaches and crystal clear blue waters.
But, my parents, being the awesome people that they were, insisted we make the most of it.
And, as it turns out Jamaica, NYC is pretty cool! So much so that it inspired me to start exploring the rest of Queens too. You know, just to make sure that I wasn’t missing out on any wicked awesome hidden gems, like some of the best bookstores in NYC that you see listed below.
I just hope that you like these fine purveyors of books as much as I do!
20. Book Culture
I didn’t think I’d love Book Culture when I first visited. I mean, it sits right across the street from a Starbucks and a Chipotle, That’s why, I kind of felt like it would be a soulless, overly commercial, cultural wasteland.
But spoiler alert, it wasn’t! Because this place is hella awesome. It also appears to be inside of what was once a former warehouse, So yeah, this place definitely has a hipster vibe to it. Which is fine by me since I personally love the whole warehouse aesthetic. It just makes everything seem so much BIGGER and more open.
Don’t get me wrong though. I love a tiny, intimate bookstore. But sometimes a girl just needs some space to breathe and pursue through the merchandise, Which is important here since they have an enormous selection of kids’ books on sale here.
So yeah, If you have kids then this is hands down one of the best bookstores in NYC for kids books!
But real talk for just a hot minute? Yeah, you definitely don’t need to be a kid to enjoy the vast selection of kid’s books here. I mean, I love looking through the books here since they’re just so dang creative and feature a wealth of artwork that is jaw-droppingly amazing!
Plus, there’s an entire selection of foreign language books for kids that cover everything from German to French to Spanish. Yup, talk about uber-cool and something that I wish I had access to as a kid! Then I might actually be fluent in another language! Sigh.
PS, if you’ve never had Burmese food, there’s a kiosk down the road called Burmese Bites that is DIVINE and that you should absolutely try right now. Yeah, you’re welcome.
Address: 26-09 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101 (There are two other locations in Manhattan, but I prefer this location in Queens)
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 3:00 pm 6:00 pm and closed on Mondays.
How to Get There: Take either the E, M, or R train to Queens Plaza Station, or the 7, N, or W train to Queensboro Plaza Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the: B62, Q39, or Q67 bus to Jackson Avenue/43rd Avenue.
21. Kew & Willow BooksLook through the stacks of books at Kew and Willow in Queens.
You know that stereotypical small, intimate, dimly lit, but very welcoming local corner bookstore you see in all the movies (cough, You’ve Got Mail, cough)? Well, that’s basically what Kew & Willow Books feels like to me.
Although, in all truth, it is fairly well lit. But, whatever. You get my point!
Plus, they do great events! Which is exceptionally awesome since I always love bookstores that use events to try and engage with their local community. It also makes the store 10,000 times more memorable and fun.
So, trust me when I tell you that Kew & Willow is one of the best bookstores in NYC for fun and unique events. I mean, they do semi-regular board game nights, need I say more?
Honestly, though, I think they try to do them monthly but, you know, sometimes life just gets in the way. But regardless, If you’re a board game enthusiast of even the smallest measure, then you should definitely check this place out.
Plus, the staff are super friendly and love chatting about books. Sadly though, their selection is a bit limited since, well, the store is just small. But, if they don’t have a specific item you’re looking for then they’re bound to have an equally perfect recommendation instead!
That’s why, if you should find yourself in Queens and love bookstores almost as much as I do (and who doesn’t) then pop on in!
Address: 81-63 Lefferts Blvd, Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm and closed Sunday and Monday.
How to Get There: Take the E or F train to Briarwood Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the Q10 bus to Lefferts Boulevard/83 Avenue. Additionally, you can catch the train to Kew Gardens and head northeast on Lefferts Boulevard for 2 minutes.
22. Topos Bookstore Cafe
Do you sometimes need to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city? If so, then Topos Bookstore Cafe is the place to be since it offers a diverse selection of books, serves up some incredibly high-quality coffee, and has some delightfully delicious treats that are just waiting to be devoured. So yeah, sign me up because this place is basically any and every introvert’s dream.
It was also first opened back in 2015 by a trio of book lovers, who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their store and to the books that they stock the shelves with. All three also enjoy the fine art of philosophy. That’s why, there’s a huge philosophy section here if you wanna take your brain on an impromptu trip to the gym.
There’s also a cute little cafe bar here where you can sit and chat about your latest reads with other patrons while sipping an iced latte and munching on a delicious cookie (even vegan ones, if that’s your preference!).
Address: 788 Woodward Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the M train to Forest Avenue station or the B20 bus to Putnam Avenue/Fairview Avenue.
23. Turn the Page Again
Turn the Page Again is a magical, Queens-based bookstore that sells lightly used books. So, these stellar pieces of literature are in great condition AND affordable too.
Cause let’s be real. Books can be hella expensive these days! Especially up in NYC. But honestly, the incredibly low price tag isn’t even the best part.
See. Turn the Page Again is actually an Affirmative bookstore, which means they exclusively hire people with disabilities, with a focus on aiding people with mental health issues in their adjustment to working life. Which is amazing.
It also means that in supporting Turn the Page Again you’re simultaneously promoting mental health awareness. A cause that is near and dear to my heart since I think we can all agree that life is hard sometimes – even without the added stigma and difficulties that come with a mental health diagnosis.
So, it’s super-duper wonderful that a place like this exists. Plus, it’s just an overall wonderful, cozy little shop with a wide array of used books. I mean, I can’t be the only one who loves browsing pre-owned books and wondering about the incredible lives they’ve lived? Right?
Anyway, you’ll also love that this bookstore sits right next door to a great Thai place (Thai 101). And just in case you didn’t know, I am hardcore obsessed with Thai food. I literally can’t walk past without popping into this restaurant and have something to eat. I mean, the smell of the food alone makes me feel like I’m back in Chiang Mai or exploring some of my favorite hidden gems in Bangkok.
So, stop by today, support a great cause, enjoy some beyond epic Thai food, and experience one of the best bookstores in NYC!
Address: 39-15 Bell Blvd, Bayside, NY 11361
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sundays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
How to Get There: You can either take the Port Washington train to Bayside Train Station or the Q13 or Q31 bus to Bell Boulevard/40th Street (or 39th depending on direction).
Best Bookstores in NYC: Staten Island
A lot of people never make it over to Staten Island when they visit NYC.
And I’ll admit, it definitely took me a while to visit myself. But, in the end, I figured out that Staten Island is pretty cool and totally different from the rest of NYC.
So, although I do recommend visiting the Botanical Garden and Historic Richmond Town while you’re here, I get that those places aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
BUT, If you’re reading this post right now, then that means that you obviously love books! In which case, you should DEFINITELY make time to check out two of the best bookstores in NYC. Especially since they’re quite different from a lot of the stores on this list.
24. Everything Goes Book Cafe and Neighborhood StageThe vibrant and welcoming exterior of Everything Goes Book Cafe in Staten Island, New York which is one of the best bookstores in NYC.
The name says it all when it comes to this book store and cafe combo. So, imagine a wealth of tasty hot drinks, delicious food, and shelves full of books. There’s even a garden patio where you can sit and enjoy your organic espresso in the sun! Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Well, I’ll tell you what. See, during the day, this quaint cafe is the perfect place to snug up into a comfy armchair and read a good book. However, throughout the evening, the Neighbourhood Stage part of this store is where all manner of live performances can be seen throughout the year.
Well, they have readings, theatrical performances, live music, cabaret shows, film presentations, and more! You can even book the stage for yourself, and present all of your theatrical talents to the world!
Come on, be bold. Because you got this and I totally believe in you! Okay, well, even if you don’t host your very own live performance, this is still a super cool NYC bookstore to be.
Address: 208 Bay Street, Staten Island, New York City, NY 10301
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
How to Get There: This store is a 15-minute walk from St George Train Station and Ferry Terminal
25. JHU Comic Books
JHU Comic Books (short for Jim Hanley’s Universe) has been supplying Staten Island with comics for well over 35 years. That’s why, if anyone knows about comics, it’s them!
But, in spite of what you may think, this place isn’t just all about the comics. Because JHU also prides itself for having a huge, well-curated collection of graphic novels that cover all manner of subjects, stories, and superheroes! Which makes sense since their aim is to introduce customers to the place where art and literature meet.
They also frequently host signings for leading members of the comics industry and have a vibrant gaming community since there’s space in the store for patrons to meet up and battle it out, Dungeons and Dragons style.
So, whether you want to find your new favorite comic book, or compete against players in a mythic, nerderific battle to the death, JHU Comic Books is the place to be!
Address: 299B New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, New York City, NY 10306
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the SIRR to New Dorp Station and walk 5 minutes east along New Dorp Lane
A Free, Interactive Map of all the Best Bookstores in NYC that you see in this post!
Well my dear, NYC obsessed readers, this just about concludes my ridiculously long post on 25 of the best bookstores in NYC!
So tell me, you wickedly wonderful reader you, how many of these amazing bookstores have you visited? And did some of your fave bookstores in NYC make thie list? If not then let me know in the comments below since I always want to hear from you and am always looking for new and exciting bookstores to explore.
And if you found this post even a little bit helpful, then pin this post now so that you can read it again later! Come on, you know you want to!