12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (2024)

12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (1)

As an avid bookworm myself, I’m a sucker for the charming independent bookstores in NYC. Over the past 10 years, I’ve stumbled upon some real gems that I’d like to share with you today. I hope this list makes your search for a cozy NYC bookstore easier. I’m not one for small talk, so let’s get to it!

Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +3 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.

The Best Book Stores in New York City

(Table of Contents)

NYC Bookstores (Table of Contents)

  • The Best Book Stores in New York City
    • McNally Jackson (Multiple Locations)
    • Books Are Magic (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)
    • Albertine Books (Upper East Side)
    • Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)
    • The Corner Bookstore (Upper East Side)
    • The Drama Book Shop
    • Housing Works Bookstore
    • Argosy Book Store (Midtown)
    • The Strand (East Village)
    • Rizzoli Bookstore (Flatiron)
  • Best Independent Bookstores in New York City (Post Summary)
  • Map of New York City Bookstores
12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (2)

McNally Jackson (Multiple Locations)

This beloved bookstore was opened in 2004 by Sarah McNally — who hails from a bibliophile family (her parents own the largest independent bookstore chain in Canada). Known for its vast selection of books, the store hosts around 400 events annually! From book signings to author discussions, this is a great NYC bookstore to meet new people and discuss ideas.

Local’s Tip: The South Street Seaport location is especially charming and the big leather couch is dangerously cozy. There’s also a great in-house cafe dishing out coffee and pastries from local bakeries like Sarabeths and Balthazar, highly recommend!

Website: McNally Jackson
Locations: 5 Locations in NYC

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Books Are Magic (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)

Book Are Magic is a Brooklyn-based independent bookstore founded by a well known (and local) author, Emma Straub. The impetus of the bookstore is just as important as the service it provides to the community.

Books Are Magic was opened in 2017 shortly after the closure of the neighborhood’s sole independent bookstore, BookCourt. Inviting and vibrant, the interior is best described as “industrial Scandinavian” and feels like the only place to be on a rainy autumn day. Don’t miss the great reading events and speaking panels.

Website: Books Are Magic
Hours: Daily 10am to 6pm
Locations: 225 Smith & 122 Montague in Brooklyn

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Albertine Books (Upper East Side)

Arguably one of the best-hidden bookstores in New York City, Albertine Books is located within the French Embassy on the Upper East Side. The store is devoted to French literature but carries some English titles as well.

Admittedly, this bookstore is on the smaller side, which makes their vast selection of 14,000 books (spanning two floors), all the more impressive. They’ve made great use of limited space!

Tip to my fellow Francophiles — brace yourself, the bookstore is so cool; you’ll be tempted to book a flight to France the second you walk through the door. The remarkable hand-painted celestial ceiling on the second floor is worth a visit alone!

Website: Albertine Books
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY
Featured in: 15 Best Things to Do on the Upper East Side

12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (5)

Three Lives & Company (West Village)

Three Lives & Company is quite possibly the most charming bookstore in New York City. Opened in 1978, this gem sits on the cutest corner in the West Village and serves as a reminder of the old New York. This cozy Greenwich Village bookstore is renowned for its carefully curated selection of titles, covering a wide range of genres across its compact space.

Hosting a variety of intimate events and book readings, this local gem fosters a strong sense of community among book lovers. Creaky floors, warm-toned wooden bookshelves and colorful books — when it comes to quaint NYC bookstores, this one takes the cake. Plus, the team on staff are some of the kindest in the city.

Website: Three Lives & Company
Address: 154 W 10th St, New York, NY

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Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

Opened in 2009, the goal was to create a community-hub for the neighborhood disguised as a bookstore. The strong sense of community is where this Brooklyn bookstore truly shines. Along with a great selection of books, there’s so shortage of interesting reading events or guests speakers on rotation (check out upcoming events here).

Today, Greenlight Bookstore is the first place that comes to mind whenever I feel the need to attend an author discussion, book signing or simply hear an interesting topic analyzed via panel. The store is well curated and the knowledgeable staff are happy to point you in the right direction or offer a personalized recommendation.

Website: Greenlight Bookstore
Address: 686 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Hours: Daily 10am-10pm

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The Corner Bookstore (Upper East Side)

Founded in 1978, The Corner Bookstore has been satisfying the literary needs of New Yorkers for three generations. The name of the game for this independent New York City bookstore is tiny but mighty.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming the size is any indication of a limited selection, it’s surprisingly easy to find a quality read! It’s evident the staff takes great pride in their thoughtful recommendations of new titles to share with customers.

I also feel compelled to mention the impressive children’s section, which seems almost disproportionately large. You’re bound to find classics and relevant new children’s books that touch on current goings-on (political or otherwise).

Website: The Corner Bookstore
Address: 1313 Madison Ave, New York, NY

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The Drama Book Shop

The Drama Bookshop has long been a staple for the city’s Broadway scene. Dating back to 1912, it’s been an invaluable resource for some of Broadway’s greatest stars for more than 100 years.

As with most bookstores in New York City (and across the country), The Drama Book Shop began to struggle and faced foreclosure. Thankfully, in 2020, Lin-Manuel Miranda (the mastermind behind the Hamilton musical), purchased the store.

Ages ago, Miranda used to rehearse “In the Heights” in the bookstore, a musical that helped launch Miranda to stardom. Nostalgic and sentimental, he couldn’t let this iconic New York City bookstore fail (spoiler alert: it didn’t).

Website: The Drama Book Shop
Address: 266 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018
Hours: Daily 10am-7pm

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Housing Works Bookstore

Housing Works Bookstore is a unique New York City bookstore because of the noble cause behind it. This bookstore is managed by a non-profit (by the same name) that ambitiously aims to fight HIV/AIDS and homelessness, and the stigmas associated with both.

As such, 100% of profits from this NYC bookstore are donated to fight HIV/AIDS and homelessness. Everything on the shelves (books, DVDs, housing items, etc.) is donated, but it goes a step further. The store is run by volunteers, so literally ever cent of the sale goes to the cause.

Since the books are donated, there’s no guarantee that you will find a specific title. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, peruse the shelves and pick something up that you normally wouldn’t.

Website: Housing Works Bookstore
Address: 126 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012

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Argosy Book Store (Midtown)

No list of the best bookstores in NYC would be complete without a mention of Argosy Books, the oldest bookstore in New York City. Founded in 1925, this family-owned bookstore has been serving New Yorkers for almost 100 years.

Argosy Book Store specializes in rare first-edition & out-of-print books, and antique maps as well. Spanning 6 floors, the interior is filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, sturdy wood ladders, green lamps and the heavenly smell of old books.

The endearing old-world vibes at Argosy Book Store seem to mess with the space-time continuum, between the decor and vintage books, the hours seem to melt. Some things never change, and frankly shouldn’t.

Website: Argosy Book Store
Address: 116 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022

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The Strand (East Village)

Founded in 1927, the Strand is the only remaining bookstore from “Book Row” which was a coalition of 48 bookstores that lined Fourth Avenue. Every single bookstore, with the exception of the Strand, closed during the Great Depression.

Today this large NYC bookstore is home to 2.5 million books and serves as a safe-haven for insatiable bookworms far and wide. Visitors are welcome to donate books and peruse the bookstore in search of something new. Definitely spend time exploring the deals on the racks outside the store as well, you might score a deal!

The Strand has several locations but I suggest visiting the flagship store in the East Village (828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003).

Website:Strand Bookstore
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Featured in: 15 Iconic East Village Activities

12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (12)

Westsider Rare & Used Books

Westsider Rare & Used Books is one of the smallest bookstores in New York City. Every inch of the interior is filled with books. As hard as it is to believe, there’s even an upstairs section where you can find vintage records, too. Say hello to the cat that roams the store. And while there’s no guarantee that the title you’re after will be in stock, the hunt only adds to the charm.

Website: Westsider Rare & Used Books
Address: 2246 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Featured in: 20 Best Things to Do on the Upper West Side

12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (13)

Rizzoli Bookstore (Flatiron)

Rizzoli Books is an independent NYC bookstore boasting handsome mahogany bookshelves filled to the brim with an extensive selection of coffee table books. The reason? Rizzoli is a world-renowned publisher of coffee table books. Founded in Italy, Rizzoli chose New York City at their sole US outpost (how lucky for us!). Expect to find unique and fascinating books that span the gamut.

Website: Rizzoli Bookstore
Address: 1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

Best Independent Bookstores in New York City (Post Summary)

In sum, these are the best bookstores in New York City:

  1. Books Are Magic
  2. The Strand
  3. Three Lives & Company
  4. Argosy Book Store
  5. McNally Jackson
  6. Housing Works Bookstore
  7. Rizzoli Books
  8. Albertine Books
  9. The Corner Bookstore
  10. Greenlight Bookstore
  11. Shakespeare & Co.
  12. The Drama Bookshop
  13. Books Culture
  14. Westsider Rare & Used Books

Map of New York City Bookstores

And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the best independent bookstores in New York City. I love living in a city that has so many charming little book stores to choose from and hope you enjoyed this article, let me know if I missed anything, it’s always so nice to hear from you!

Cheers!

12 Charming New York City Bookstores You Can't Help But Love (2024)

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