In the crowded city, there’s nothing better than finding a cool and quiet bookstore to get lost in. The winding aisles of novels, art tomes and magazines can undoubtedly provide both relaxation and inspiration. A good book, along with an iced coffee, is all you need to feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle… Check our list and pick your favorite NYC bookstore.1
McNally Jackson Books
A dying breed. An independent bookstore located in some of NYC’s pricier real estate. The vibe is wonderful here. Staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. Selection is not for everyone, but a thrill for serious readers (no offense meant to those who fancy romance novels or Stephen King).
The overall place has a nice relaxing atmosphere. The basement area has a table area similar to libraries where you can chill and read with friends. Unlike other bookstores in the commercial area, McNally Jackson really takes efforts to get the best quality books – it mostly focuses on literature (US and international), art, photography and other humanities subject. All the books just look so beautiful and are like artifacts in a museum.2
Three Lives & Company
Three Lives is a living room, and a living place. It is a work in progress. People come here to see and buy some of the best books available today. They also come to discuss books, culture, and events of the moment. They meet for a sense of community in times of national tragedy and personal celebration. Intrinsically, books extend a graciousness that provokes discourse. A knowledgeable staff that reads prodigiously is a key to bookstores success, as has a theatrical and artistic display of the books.3
Books of Wonder
Books of Wonder stocks the newest titles from the best authors and artist in the field, as well as beloved classics that generations have grown up with. It have a large selection of old, rare, and collectible children’s books plus a gallery displaying original art and graphics from the vibrant world of children’s books. Bookstore hosts weekly storytimes and numerous author and artist events each week.
The Book Culture is one of those wonderful neighborhood stores that you just feel happy to walk through. The little place has a strong collection of books, and even a strong community built around it as well. With a great selection of backpacks, tshirts, and other knick knacks, this store is really one where you can buy books AND culture. The staff here is super friendly and helpful, definitely seems like a cool place to work. If you sign up for their loyalty program, discounts and free stuff come in once you spend around $200. Also, signing up gets you a 20% off card.
On weekends you might be lucky to hear some local musicians playing towards the back of the store while you browse.5
Kitchen Arts & Letters
Don’t take this place as merely a cookbook store. It has tons of cookbooks for sure, and if you ever need one for any type of recipe you have in mind, it won’t disappoint you. But this place is far more than that.
Food is for being made and enjoyed, but it is also a reflection and documentation of different cultures and historical periods. In this store you can find books about the Basque area and the uniqueness of their food; books about the history of salt, its discovery and its many applications; books about the American gastronomy and how the industry developed, etc. The store also has many out-of-print books that you can rarely find anywhere else.
The owners are very friendly and knowledgeable about the books in their store, and can give you very good suggestions based on your reading needs. If you’re a person who has a passion for food, this is a place you have to come for at least once.6
Tucked inside the historic Payne Whitney mansion, Albertine is the only bookshop in New York devoted solely to books in French and English with more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from 30 French-speaking countries.
A project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Albertine bookshop brings to life the French government’s commitment to French-American intellectual exchange. The space reflects its belief in the power of literature and the humanities to increase understanding and friendship across borders, and in the power of books as a common good for a better world.
Albertine is housed in the official landmark Payne Whitney mansion in Manhattan. In 1902, former Standard Oil Company treasurer Oliver Hazard Payne commissioned the Italian Renaissance mansion as a wedding gift to his nephew Payne Whitney. Between 1902 and 1906, Stanford White, the famed architect of the Washington Square Arch, designed and oversaw construction of the mansion. Since 1952, the mansion has housed the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The bookshop within the mansion was born in 2014, and its interiors were created by celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia (Chateau du Champ de Bataille in Normandy, France and The NoMad Hotel in New York City).7
Opened in September 2005, Dashwood Books is New York City’s only independent bookstore devoted entirely to photography. Located at 33 Bond Street (between Bowery and Lafayette Street in NoHo) Dashwood has become a Mecca for artists, collectors and art directors as well as a valued source for fashion, advertising, film and anybody interested in photography and design.
Dashwood regularly organizes signings with established artists: Past events have included Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jim Goldberg, Paul Graham, Juergen Teller, Ari Marcopoulos, Taryn Simon, Roe Ethridge, Miyako Ishiuchi, Eugene Richards, Collier Schorr and Wolfgang Tillmans.8
Bluestockings is a mix of that hippie dippie political activist shop yet gets that modern witchy, feminist twist.
A popular spot for those who still have a love for books. Especially the kinda books that might give you a second look on the subway. The book store also has another favorite, coffee. But regular coffee, no fancy drinks here. There are a couple small tables on the side where customers can drink coffee and read. In ordering coffee you will be tempted in the very cool large and small buttons. I ended up with a fully manicured nails with the saying “hard as nails”. I love it! Can’t wait to flare my jacket with it.
The coffee is strong and the prefect beverage during the fall and winter season. I ended up having the same book that they sell “Witches, Sluts, Feminist” by Kristen J. Sollée And the woman next to me was also reading said book. I enjoyed that Blue Stockings knows what’s up and coming but also keeps classics like Simone De Beauvoir “the woman destroyed”.
This is the perfect spot to find gifts for birthdays and also when the holidays are around the corner. Highly recommend stopping by and seeing what’s new.
Opened on May 22nd, 2003, 192 Books offers books of lasting interest on a variety of subjects, including literary fiction, works in translation, art and photography, film, poetry, music, history, biography, natural history, science, and current affairs.
192 hosts readings by distinguished writers and artists and a weekly story hour for children at eleven each Wednesday.10
Founded in 1976, Printed Matter, Inc. is the world’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books and related publications. Artists’ books provide a remarkable reflection of contemporary artistic practices – tracing and even leading many of the most important developments in the historical trajectory. In the face of the ongoing proliferation of digital media and information, there has been an astounding resurgence over the past several years in both artists’ publishing and public interest. In tandem with this truly international phenomenon, Printed Matter founded the NY and LA art fairs (in 2004 and 2013 respectively), which have become the world’s largest venues for the distribution, investigation and celebration of artists books and art publishing. It is thrilling that Printed Matter’s mission continues to be resilient, and remains more relevant than ever.
Find your favorite NYC Bookstore!