NYC Bookstores by Neighborhood

The question I’m asked most frequently by those visiting from out of town is “which bookstores should I check out?”  Here is a list of my favorite NYC bookstores, organized by neighborhood to help make your travel planning a little bit easier.  This is in no way an exhaustive list of the best bookstores in NYC, but these are my favorite haunts.

Uptown

Book Culture (Upper West Side) – there are four Book Culture locations in NYC but my two favorites are the spaces on W 112th and Columbus Ave.  Head to 536 W 112th for a great selection of used books and some amazing bookish puzzles.  Check out 450 Columbus Ave for a beautifully warm store with the most wonderful new release tables and charming home goods.  

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Book Culture (450 Columbus Ave)

Westsider Books (Upper West Side) – the shelves of Westsider books are completely stocked with great used finds, if you’re down to spend a few hours to look.  Check out the shelves behind the register for some really special editions.

Corner Bookstore (Upper East Side) – this bookstore will give you major You’ve Got Mail vibes (except it is on the wrong side of the city).  It is charming and cozy, the perfect place to spend some time browsing and warming up from the chilly city streets.

Albertine (Upper East Side) – Easily one of the most unique bookstores in NYC.  I would never have dared to walk into Albertine had it not been for my Francophile roommate.  To enter, you have to walk through part of the French Embassy.  But once you make it through, they have a great selection of books, including titles in both English and French, in a uniquely beautiful space.  A must for any lover of French literature, and highly recommended for all other bookstores fans as well.

Midtown

The Drama Bookshop (Times Square) – this is one of my favorite nooks in NYC.  Tucked away in the madness of Times Square, this is a haven for fans of theater.  Whether you go in looking for a specific script or just something new that strikes your fancy, you will not leave disappointed.

Rizzoli Books (Nomad) – this is one of the most beautiful bookstores I’ve ever been in.  They have a little bit of everything, but one of the best selection of art and photography books I’ve ever found.  Stop by here the next time you need to stock up on unique coffee table books.

Downtown

The Strand (Union Square) – no trip to New York is complete without a trip to the Strand.  Plan to spend a few hours here and make sure to take in all of the different floors.  One of my favorite aspects of the Strand is their unique approach to organizing their tables.  Walk around and you’ll catch topics like “stories from the big apple” and “banned books.” Tip: they have an incredible selection of bookish pins.  Don’t miss those little wonders.

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The Strand

Three Lives & Company (Greenwich Village) – I discovered this cozy store because Hanya Yanagihara (author of A Little Life) named it as her favorite bookstore in NYC.  It’s small but crammed to the brim with great books and the staff give great recommendations.  

McNally Jackson (SoHo) – this might be my favorite bookstore in NYC if I’m judging purely by aesthetic.  Two floors of an amazing selection of books and a lovely coffee shop to cozy up in afterwards with your finds.  If you’re a stationary junkie like I am, you won’t want to miss their satellite store next door: goods for the study.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (SoHo) – this is absolutely the best used bookstore selection in the city.  They have an incredible number of used books, including new releases, and their inventory changes over very quickly.  They also have a great cafe/bar and you’ll notice there are people who plan to spend their whole day there.  Tip: they do monthly sales of 30% off everything in the store (savings on savings).

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Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Brooklyn

Books Are Magic (Cobble Hill) – owned by Emma Straub, the author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers, this bookstore is one of the newest additions to the NYC bookstore scene.  It is incredibly lovely and boasts a wonderful children’s section, that includes great nooks for kids to hang out and read.  They also offer 10% off their weekly bestsellers.

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Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene) – another Brooklyn bookstore gem.  Their selection is extremely well curated and they also have a number of incredible photography books that are worth taking a moment to flip through (or to bring home with you).