Whether you’re a book lover looking for a great read or a friend searching for the perfect gift, New York City offers limitless literary adventure options.
In no particular order, our list includes some of the city’s most beloved indie shops, tourist favorites, and spots that are worth visiting just to enjoy the ambiance.
The best way to discover a new book is to walk into a bookstore and browse the bookshelves. The smell of the paper, the yellowed pages, and the knowledge that you are in a place where writers and readers alike have congregated for years. There are thousands of bookstores in New York City.
While not all bookstores are equal, here are some of the best bookstores in New York City to visit when you’re in town.
Best New York City Bookstores That You MUST visit
Regardless of the huge quantity of books stocked in most major bookstores, traveling to independent bookstores is a worthwhile experience for anyone who likes to learn. It can enhance your reading experience and help you discover new things about yourself or the world.
The Big Apple is full of great bookstores — so many, in fact, that it can be hard to settle on just one. That said, there are still a few standouts — especially if you’re looking for maximum cozy vibes and great selections.
If you’re visiting the city or live here as well, I wanted to share my list of the awesome bookstores in New York City.
1. The Corner Bookstore
No matter your literary preference, The Corner Bookstore — an independent NYC bookstore — has a book for you.
In 1978, the store was founded by current owner Tracy Hyman, who’s been working hard to keep New Yorkers feeling connected to literature.
While popular classics like To Kill A Mockingbird or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are also on the shelf at this beloved local shop, they also carry lesser-known and harder-to-find works.
This charming independent bookstore is as small as it gets and that only adds to its charm. The size may be small, but the shop is bursting with stories and recommendations from experienced booksellers who know their stock extremely well.
Despite its deceptively small size, the selection of books at The Corner Bookstore is well-curated and gigantic. It’s also very easy to find a book with a killer plot no matter what you’re in to.
The staff at The Corner Bookstore has a passion for sharing their love of books with customers. Staff members carefully handpick fiction and non-fiction titles they feel are perfect to share, paying special attention to what’s relevant right now.
The Corner Bookstore also offers an impressive children’s section, packed with both classic and creative new novels that support current goings-on.
The Corner Bookstore, a specialty bookstore for children, is stocked with thousands of books that were picked because of their “quality and diversity.”
Because the store is found in an area with a high concentration of private schools, its highly trained staff regularly interacts with parents who want to buy books for their children. There’s really no way you can go wrong; just ask around!
Address: 1313 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128
2. Shakespeare & Co.
Shakespeare & Co. is a book lover’s paradise, located on the Upper East Side just across the street from Hunter College. This well-known bookstore stocks a wide variety of titles — over 120,000 in fact!
But with so many books vying for your attention, you can always place an order for a hard copy if they don’t have what you’re looking for on hand. Just grab a cup of coffee from their coffee shop while you wait and enjoy your chosen read before making it home to catch up with friends about it later.
Shakespeare & Co. is a venerable NYC bookstore with two locations in New York City: Upper East Side and Upper West Side.
It has been a staple in New York City for more than 30 years, with two locations in the Manhattan area. The Upper East Side shop was recently renovated and now features an on-demand book machine that lets you print out the book of your choosing!
If a book is out of stock, the machine offers cash rewards in exchange for patience. You can also grab a coffee while waiting to get your hands on something precious to you.
Address: 2020 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
3. Greenlight Bookstore
Greenlight Bookstore is a treasure trove of stories. With over 100,000 books, the independent bookstore has become a landmark in its neighborhood, providing ample opportunities for bookworms to collect tales and share stories with others.
This bookstore has a deep sense of community, with fun events and fascinating speakers coming through.
A cozy and calm environment encourages people to explore the latest titles and chat about literature with each other in an intimate space.
What was most surprising about the bookstore’s success isn’t that it immediately became a neighborhood hub — but that it remains one to this day. The founders had hoped the store would become a community hub, and they were right.
Greenlight Bookstore is an author’s dream. The number of book events and authors that get featured at its book signings is reason enough to make it a literary infatuation.
I am always searching for new writers, themes, and topics and Greenlight certainly provides the perfect platform for me to do so.
As for the book selection, I love the wide choice of fiction and non-fiction literature on offer. From John le Carre thrillers to classic literature from the likes of James Joyce with all kinds of interesting book selections in between; you are sure to find something that tickles your fancy.
The curated selection is a treasure trove for readers like me in search of new book recommendations — and for complete book nerds who love chatting about everything from page layouts to cover art with the in-house staff.
A big part of shopping at an independent bookstore is the customer experience; it’s the pleasant conversation with a store employee, perusing new arrivals, and making connections with fellow readers.
- 632 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
- 686 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Flagship)
4. Rizzoli Books
Rizzoli is an Italian-owned bookstore in the Flatiron neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from Madison Square Park. The establishment not only offers books on a wide variety of subjects and hobbies, but also carries art, design, fashion, architecture, food photography… And does it ever have something for every interest.
Rizzoli Bookstore has something for every bookworm; from titles of new, hard-to-find fiction and nonfiction books to out-of-print classics, the store is a haven for readers and collectors alike.
And if you’re looking for a nice gift to give someone who loves reading, Rizzoli always has unique, rare finds on its shelves.
Address: 1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
5. Albertine Books
Located in the French Embassy, Albertine Books is one of the best-hidden bookstores in New York City.
This gem is dedicated to carrying only French literature and English language books, with some English-language books on hand as well.
While smaller than other bookstores, Albertine Books is jam-packed with 14,000 books that span two floors.
And while they’ve achieved this amazing feat using a combination of brilliant book choices and minimalistic bookstore design, their celestial ceiling decorated with hand-painted stars is definitely the cherry on top.
There’s something for everyone — children’s books, young adults, memoirs, travel and adventure books, art and design titles, cooking and lifestyle books, and more.
Albertine Bookstore is one of the coolest literary meccas in New York City. While it tests your knowledge of Francophone literature, you’ll be tempted to buy all the books and set sail for vacation. Bring a friend and take your time to decide — it’s worth it!
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075
6. McNally Jackson
If you’re looking for charming New York City bookshops, then head to McNally Jackson. The original store was founded in 2004 by Sarah McNally — whose parents own Canada’s largest independent bookstore chain.
There are currently three locations in Williamsburg, South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn.
Visit McNally Jackson bookstore, where you’ll always find a wonderful selection of books. Whether you’re looking for a special gift for someone or browsing the shelves in search of something interesting, there’s sure to be something you like — this bookstore has it all!
Since there is a cafe on-site, you’ll also be able to enjoy some delicious coffee while leaving with a new book. Perfection!
Coffee, books and history? That’s the perfect trifecta for me. I love McNally Jackson bookstore. There are locations all over Manhattan, but my favorite is the South Street Seaport location.
7. Housing Works Bookstore
The Book Market is a bookstore that’s named after its noble cause. In addition to selling new and old books, the bookstore stocks magazines and has space for art displays — which often raise money to support the Fight The Stigma Initiative.
The bookstore encourages this initiative by donating 100% of their profits to the AIDS charity Housing Works, which aims to eradicate HIV/AIDS in New York City. These efforts have resulted in over $2 million dollars raised from donations.
There’s only one way to describe the Housing Works Bookstore: it is a gem.
Unlike most bookstores that are filled with books on every surface, this amazing bookstore prides itself on its organization.
Browsing the shelves and picking up books is indisputable fun, since you never know what you might find — or even scores that you might already have at home! While there’s no guarantee that you will find a specific title, scour the shelves for that next great read.
Address: 126 Crosby St, New York, NYC 10012
8. Three Lives & Company
Three Lives & Company is probably one of the country’s most cherished bookstores, as evidenced by its beloved status (at least among locals) and the fact that it has stood quietly in its West Village neighborhood for more than 43 years.
The well-read staffers here have helped locals — and visitors in the know — find treasures for more than 40 years.
For those who want to get their fix with an in-person experience, the store is located on a West Village corner and offers classics, literature and children’s books at all kinds of prices.
The bookshelves are filled with colorful books and the smell of old paper is intoxicating. One of the things I love most about Three Lives & Co. is the well–read staff. They’re incredibly knowledgeable about books and I always leave the store feeling inspired to read more.
I always feel like I can escape the noise and chaos of the city when I visit Three Lives & Co. and spend some time reading a good book. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City.
8. Argosy Book Store
Argosy Book Store is the perfect place for avid readers and bookworms of all ages. The store is bursting with shelves of ancient, musty books that are just waiting to be explored. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they always have a few recommendations for the avid reader in you.
Argosy Book Store, Manhattan’s oldest bookstore, has been providing New Yorkers with the best in literature for almost a century. The tiny room is filled with vintage books from the store’s first-ever catalog.
The store has a vintage aesthetic that creates a timeless vibe; the books are intriguing, and the space-time continuum appears to be affected.
The store is also home to a wide variety of antique maps, which are perfect for stocking up on knowledge for your next adventure. The floors are spacious, and the lighting is softly inviting. No matter what you’re looking for, Argosy Book Store is sure to have it.
As one of the oldest bookstores in New York, Argosy reminds you that no technology can replace the human connection fostered in a physical storefront.
In addition to books, they also offer an extensive selection of rare maps and antique books, making it the perfect place to browse if you’re looking for the perfect gift or insight into history.
Address: 116 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022
9. Books Are Magic
Founded by writer Emma Straub and her husband, Michael Fusco, Book Are Magic is a beautiful independent bookstore situated in Brooklyn. It’s the perfect place to curl up with a book on a rainy day or to hold an event to support local writers.
With its bookstore of the month programme and community book clubs, this indie bookstore aims to enrich people’s lives.
In 2017, BookCourt, the neighborhood’s only independent bookstore closed its doors. Luckily, Books Are Magic opened shortly after. With inviting and vibrant decor inside a space that feels like the only place you want to be on a rainy autumn day, it’s no wonder its in-house subscription services are among the best there is with unique programming along the way.
Books Are Magic immediately embraced the community, providing a venue for authors and poetry readings while stoking friendships that had previously been difficult to find.
The bright Scandinavian interior is inviting and warm. With giant windows, cozy armchairs, gothic style lamps, and stacks of books reaching the ceiling, it’s no wonder that book-lovers are flocking here from all over Brooklyn.
They also personally curate their own monthly subscription service with recommendations from local authors.
10. The Strand
The Strand is one of the most popular bookstores in New York City. It has been in business since 1927 and has 18 miles of books on three floors. The Strand is especially known for its large selection of used books. It also has a wide range of new books, including bestsellers. The Strand is located in the Union Square area of Manhattan.
It’s a beautiful day in New York City, and popular Strand bookstore is buzzing after the holidays with book-lovers of all ages. Located on Broadway and 12th Street, the bookstore has been around for nearly a century — welcoming visitors from near and far since 1927.
Today, its ever-changing stock includes 2.5 million titles spanning every genre imaginable; an elated customer found everything they were looking for under one roof at the store today!
The flagship location of the Strand Bookstore is an absolute spectacle that any book lover would adore. Located on 828 Broadway in New York City’s East Village, it’s a beautiful space to experience and explore.
13. THE DRAMA BOOKSHOP
The Drama Bookshop has been a longtime Broadway staple. Its performers regularly visit the shop to purchase scripts, and since it first opened in 1914, it has been an invaluable resource to some of theater’s greatest legends.
One of the most popular reasons for visiting The Drama Bookshop is to pay homage to its roots. You see, when Lin-Manuel Miranda bought the store in 2020 and renamed it after himself (along with a few fellow Broadway actors), he used the basement space to rehearse his hit musical In The Heights.
It therefore makes sense that The Drama Bookshop doesn’t just have books but also vinyl records, broadway paraphernalia, and other artistic supplies like art kits and bookbinding materials.
The current location of The Drama Bookshop is still in Times Square.
14. Book Culture
Book Culture is just about as quirky and charming as the Manhattan neighbourhood it’s located in — and so are its customers.
People who visit the two local shops are more likely to be locals or students at Columbia University than tourists, and they appreciate a little nostalgia while they browse new books on vintage shop shelves.
15. Corner Bookstore
The Upper East Side is where you’ll find The Corner Bookstore, a tiny bookstore that’s been there for five decades.
Filled with an assortment of books and boasting a neighborhood vibe, this store is more enjoyable than the grander location less than 10 minutes away at Stewart Foursquare.
16. Westsider Rare & Used Books
No matter the city, bookstores like Westsider Rare & Used Books are captivating spaces that make you want to read — or browse. Add great books and a friendly feline, and the store has a chance at becoming one of your favorite local spots.
Westsider Rare & Used Books is a cozy bookstore in the heart of New York City. It’s filled with books on every imaginable topic, located all over the first level of the space.
In addition to books, customers can also find records upstairs — and, as you might guess from the name, a cat roams through the store.
While browsing is fun, one of the best parts about buying from an indie bookstore is how its owners always know their stock down to each individual title. If what you’re looking for can’t be found in-store, it just might be out for loan.
Why you should visit bookstores in New York City
If you are a book lover, then you should definitely visit some of the amazing bookstores that New York City has to offer. There are both large chain stores and small, independent stores that offer a wide variety of books.
One of the great things about visiting bookstores in New York City is that you can find pretty much any type of book that you are looking for. Whether you are interested in fiction, non-fiction, or even rare and vintage books, you will be able to find what you are looking for at one of the many bookstores in NYC.
Another reason to visit bookstores in New York City is because they offer a great opportunity to explore different neighborhoods. By visiting different stores in different areas of the city, you can get a feel for the unique character of each neighborhood.
So, if you are a book lover, be sure to add some of the best bookstores in New York City to your list of places to visit. You won’t be disappointed!
In conclusion, these are the best bookstores in New York City that you should visit. However, there are many more great places to buy books in the city and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
New York City is home to some of the best bookstores in the world, and we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorites. Whether you’re looking for a bookstore with an amazing selection or one that specializes in a particular topic, you’ll find something on this list that’s perfect for you.
If you’re looking for a good bookstore, chances are you’ll find one in NYC. So get out there and start exploring!