The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (2024)

*I may be compensated if you purchase through any affiliate links on this site. Thank you for supporting the Creative Adventurer*

Every year, when the leaves start to turn colours, I make myself a cozy cup of chai, grab a fuzzy blanket and hunker down to watch an Autumnal vibey movie. My favourite?You’ve Got Mail.If you’ve not seen, You’ve Got Mail(but let’s be serious, how could you not have?), it’s all about struggling bookshop owner named Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan.) Katheleen inadvertently falls for her business rival (played by the ever charming Tom Hanks.) Although the movie’s storyline spans the entire year, the majority of it is set in New York in the fall. And as such it has become one of those movies people just have to watch as soon as the weather gets cold.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (1)

When visitingNew York City this fall, I knew I had to honour this season of reading season by visiting all theBest Book Stores in New York City. I felt like Kathleen Kelly herself as I made my way across the city. Searching out the most enchanting and adorable bookshops along the way. They all filled me with anticipation to get cozy and do some reading when I got home. Like I was bringing those autumnal vibes from the city that never sleeps home with me! One of the reasons I love buying books when on vacation is that it feels like they embue a sense of the place they came from. And memories you’ll never forget.

Before Halloween, fall is the season for getting cozy. Light a few candles and cuddle up under a warm blanket. And to perfect the evening, grab a good book for the ultimate autumnal night in. And there is no where better to find that ideal fall novel, than in New York City itself!

Table Of Contents

  1. Books are Magic
  2. The Strand Bookshop
  3. POWERHOUSE @ IC
  4. Albertine
  5. The Morgan Library Shop
  6. Mysterious Book Shop
  7. Sweet Pickle Books
  8. Rizzoli Bookstore
  9. McNally Jackson Books
  10. The Corner Bookstore
  11. Desert Island
  12. The Center for Fiction
  13. The Drama Book Shop
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (2)

Books are Magic

Walking along the charming streets of Cobble Hill, you might almost miss the rather subtle exterior of my favourite bookshop! Found on the corner of Butler and Smith Street in Brooklyn. Emma Straub, an award-winning author, founded theBook Are Magicbookshop in 2017. This shop is designed in the industrial Scandinavian style, which lends itself to being a little bit more relaxed and unassuming. But stepping inside, the fantastical colourful books lining the shelves makes any chance a subtly an impossibility.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (3)

Perhaps because the store is run by an author herself, the collection’s curation is unrivalled! I always come here with nothing in mind to buy. Instead, I leave it up to the recommended section. And I’ve never ever come away disappointed. One of the cutest parts of the shop is the mural on the side of the building. I stellar place to get your defacto Instagram shot with your newest literary purchase!

Address: 225 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (4)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (5)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (6)

The Strand Bookshop

Back in the 1890s,fourth avenue was chock-a-block filled with bookshops. Forty-eight different bookstores once lined this stretch of New york City. It was nicknamed “Book Row.” It flourished for years but after the Great Depression, many of these bookshops were forced to close. Later one, the ones that remained were driven out by rising rental prices in the 1960s. Eventually, every single one of these bookstores on Book Row closed down. Every single shop,but one. And that wasStrand Books.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (7)

Strand Booksfirst opened here in 1927 by Lithuanian immigrant Benjamin Bass. Bass opened the store with just $300 in his pocket. During the first year, Bass slept on a small cot inside the store to save money. Such was his dedication to his store and his love of books. Bass was close with several influencial members of the Stuyvesant family. The Stuyvesant’s owned a massive swath of land throughout New York. It was this lucky relationship with the Stuyvesants, that kept Bass afloat during the depression. After making it through tough times, the Strand became a historic staple of the neighbourhood. Growing in popularity year over year.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (8)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (9)

The Strand Today

Today, the bookshop remains loved by locals and tourists alike. The company’s slogan is “18 Miles Of Books” as you’ll find the shelves inside stocked with over 2.5 million books. Stepping inside can be an overwhelming experience at first. But eventually, the waves of books on the shelves almost lull you into a gentle rhythm. One of my favourite parts of the store are the themed tables in the centre of the store. The different categories allow you to discover the best of the best of these other subjects. As curated by expert bookworms at the Strand. Since the Strand is a pretty famous New York institution, there is also a plentiful selection of signed author copies of new publications! So if you’re a collector this is a must-see spot for you.

Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (10)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (11)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (12)

POWERHOUSE @ IC

POWERHOUSE @ ICis located inside one of my favourite new spots in Brooklyn; Industry City. Industry City, as the name states, was constructed inside a series of old industrial buildings. Set outside a historic intermodal shipping and warehousing complex. The decor of the new POWERHOUSE @ IC shop fits well within this industrial complex. Bright yellow paint highlights the store shelves and flooring, while the rest of the interior features exposed cement walls. It’s rather austere but makes the books on the shelves works of art on display.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (13)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (14)

POWERHOUSE @ IC prides itself on featuring a wonderfully curated selection of books that focus on design, art, DIY, food, drink, and entertaining. Each of these categories is distinctly representative of the creative spirit of Industry City. Their selection of art books was incredible. I have a growing collection of Frida Kahlo books, and I was amazed to find several books I had never seen before! Situated inside the food hall, it is very appropriate that they feature an exclusive collection of gorgeous cookbooks. If you are travelling with kids, check out their charming children’s book area. Its’s ideally set up for kids to browse and features some beautifully illustrated books for kids.

220 36th St Building 2, Brooklyn, NY

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (15)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (16)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (17)

Spoonbill & Sugartown Books

Stumbling onto Spoonbill & Sugartown Books, while wanderingin Williamsburg, was a real pleasant surprise. This cozy independent bookstore specializes in rare art, architecture and design titles. All things that are right up my streets! I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous titles pouring off the shelves when I stepped inside. Set up within this old brownstone, complete with vintage tin ceiling, it feels like the bookshop grew around this new trendy neighbourhood.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (18)

While most of the books at the front of the store are new, they also have a smaller selection of used books at the back . These are always filled with treasures, so don’t skip that section over. They have a wonderful selection of LGBTQ+ stories and a superb poetry collection. The translated poetry being my favourite. They also sell a small but fabulous sampling of independent magazines representing New York City’s culture, fashion and art.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (19)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (20)

Albertine

There is no more magical bookstore in New York City thanAlbertine. Walking in here feels like entering the Divination classroom in Hogwarts. The bookshop is located inside the upscale Payne Whitney mansion on the upper east side. A building that also houses the French Embassy. As part of the French Embassy’s commitment to intellectual exchange, they opened this bookstore that specializes in French & English language books. Inspired by the historic ceilings of French cathedrals, the most iconic part of this bookshop is the incredible ceiling mural. The mural features rich French blue paint covered in golden constellations and planets.

The spaces inside features cozy reading areas where you can lounge on the sofas, taking in the scenery. A great way to spend a rainy afternoon. While many people might not be able to read French and not see a reason to visit the shop, I would advise still checking it out. They have an unparalleled selection of stellar French cookbooks (which are written in English.) And if you’ve ever been interested in learning French they have some amazing books to get you started!

The Morgan Library Shop

The Morgan Library & Museum is one of my favourite hidden gems in New York City. The library features the personal literary collection of financier and cultural benefactor Pierpont Morgan. Morgan’s shelves feature illuminated literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints. And the entire collection is set inside his majestic Madison Avenue mid-nineteenth-century brownstone. Styled to resemble an Italian Renaissance palazzo, the library is one of the most spectacular places in the city. Admission to visit the library is required (and highly recommended), but you can always step in and visit the gift shop and bookstore for free!

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (21)

The bookshop is set inside the same gorgeous building, and it feels like walking inside a precious work of art. And what many people don’t know is that the Morgan Library Bookshop is home to one of the city’s best collections of art books. And I was shocked at the discounted books they seem to always have on offer. There is also a vast collection of gifts and stationery if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’re a library lover, this is the place to come to get some pieces that will make a statement on your shelves.

Mysterious Book Shop

Fall is inherently a “spooky season,” and there is no better place to go during this scary time of year than theMysterious Book Shop. TheMysterious Book Shopis New York’s oldest bookstore specializing in crime and mystery novels. The shelves reaching all the way to the ceiling are stocked to the gills with spine-chilling and intriguing tales. The walls of books act almost like wallpaper, creating this cozy atmosphere.

If you’re into Agatha Christie, Sherlockiana, or just looking to discover a juicy new crime author, this is the place to go! The staff are SUPER knowledgeable and also keen to discuss their new favourites. Their New York City-based mystery section is incredibly cool since you can pick up a book set right in this city. Even long after your vacation, you can pick it up to feel like you’re right back on the streets of New York. They also have a gorgeous selection of rare books, which are a treat to wonder at.

Sweet Pickle Books

Sweet Pickle Books, located in the lower east side, is probably one of the most uniquely themed bookstores in the city. As the name states, they are indeed both a bookstore but also a pickle shop!The store’s concept was inspired by owner Leigh Altshuler‘s mother’s favourite movieCrossing Delancey.The 1988 movie is about a pickle peddler who falls in love with a book dealer. All set in the Lower East Side. Altshuler opened her store during the pandemic after losing her marketing job. She started selling homemade pickles from her apartment, but in 2021, when rental places became more affordable, she switched to a brick-and-mortar location. Since pickles were always such an essential part of the Lower East Side’s Jewish immigrant cusine, Altshuler also feels like her store is an homage to the neighbourhood.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (22)

But pickles couldn’t support her business entirely. When she saw how many people were simply giving books away in estate sales, she bought and resold them here. The result is the most haphazard collection, and I meant that in the most endearingly way. Searching the shelves here is a means of discovery, and since her prices are so low, you can find treasures for almost nothing! You never know what you’ll find, except for the pickles, which are always an absolute treat! Don’t miss out on the spicy ones, delicious!

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (23)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (24)

Rizzoli Bookstore

Walking intoRizzoli Bookstore, you feel like you are entering an elegant Italian palazzo. The gorgeous chandeliers, marble floors, rich oak bookshelves and handpainted frescos on the walls make shopping here a luxurious experience. Rizzoli Bookstore has been open in New York for 50 years, although it has only spent half that time in this location on Broadway.

Rizzoli is notable for its incredible collection of independent texts specializing in fantastically illustrated books. If you’re interested in architecture, interior design, fashion, photography, cooking, and applied arts, this is the place for you! Exploring these captivating collections can get you lost for hours. If you’re looking for an extra special gift to get someone, this is the place to go!

McNally Jackson Books

The soaring bookshelves of this two-storey shop in Brooklyn is one of the most beautiful visions a book lover will ever see. It reminds me of so many baroque libraries I’ve visited around the world.McNally Jackson Booksis a New York independent bookseller with four locations across the city. Their shop in Brooklyn is my favourite as it blends modern interior design with classical bookshop vibes. Their curation, especially about hyper-specific categories, is terrific, and there is always something new to discover here.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (25)

If you’re a journaler, you will definitely appreciate their gorgeous selection of stationery. Hundreds of different pens in every rainbow colour and various leather notebooks are needed to jot down all those precious messages and memories.

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (26)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (27)

The Corner Bookstore

The darlingCorner Bookstore, on the literal corner of Madison Avenue, is set inside an old 1890s brick brownstone. Their window displays are filled to the brim with vivid book covers demanding you to come inside. Stepping into this storied building with charming tin ceilings feels quintessentially New York. This neighbourhood mainstay has been open here since 1978. They even still have the original manual cash register. A memento of the olden days.

This store was actually one of the few iconic locations in New York scouted by the set designers for the film,You’ve Got Mail.Despite being a smaller store, they still have a beautifully curated selection of literary fiction, history, biography and children’s works.

Three Lives & Company

This enchanted corner of New York City is home to the belovedThree Lives & Companybookstore. This legendary spot has stood here for over 40 years in the heart of historic Greenwich Village. You can spot the shop from down the street by the shockingly red door painted to match the red bricks of the old building.

One of the best things about this shop is the staff. I always come here with NOTHING in mind to buy. Instead, I love chatting with the staff to see what they recommend in whatever category I seem drawn to that day. Inside this cozy interior, you can while away the afternoon simply by peering through their fantastical collections.

Desert Island

Walking down this street in Brooklyn, you’ll see the gorgeous retro signage for an old bakery. But inside, you’ll find something altogether different. I wanted to be sure to add a bookshop to this list that specializes in graphic novels. And this is THAT shop. Over the years, graphic novels have become one of the most exciting and captivating forms of literature and stepping intoDesert Islandbooks, you’ll know why! Desert Island is decorated with handmade ice-blue stalactite sculptures and gorgeous tapestries hung all over the interior. These decorations are meant to wrap up the visitors in a wonderfully imaginative environment in which to browse their books. The shelves are stocked with thoughtfully curated graphic novels, comic books, sweet treasures and one-of-a-kind prints!

In addition, this store also sells some awesome zines made by local artists. These zines are such a hyper-niche thing. Usually, one-offs are only found here, so grabbing one is like buying up a piece of ephemeral New York art. Desert Island also publishes its own yearly all-illustration newspaper, “Smoke Signal.” These local oddities make the store unique and unlike anything else you’ll find.

The Center for Fiction

In the centre of Brooklyn, you’ll find this monolith to literature; theCenter for Fiction! The walls are toweringly high, with a huge ladder required to access the books on the tallest shelves. Like a modern-day version of Beauty and the Beast‘s library. The Center for Fiction is the only nonprofit literary organization in the US. And this store is their first brick-and-mortar bookshop, which opened in 2019. The window side of the shop features floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing light to stream inside in the most heavenly way. Compared to some of the other bookstores on this list which are moredark academia, this place iscontemporary chic!

In addition to their incredible selection of books, they also frequently hold panels, lectures, seminars, reading groups, and conversations led by some of the nation’s most beloved writers. Their cozy cafe and bar is a fantastic spot to come and grab a bite to eat while enjoying your newest book purchase. There are so many people here writing away on notepads and computer screens. Like you can feel the next big novel being written right in the room! The vibes here are unrivalled, and it is one of the most peaceful places in the city to come and shop.

The Drama Book Shop

As New York City is home to Broadway and one of, if not the BEST, places to see live theatre, visiting theDrama Book Shopfeels like a truly New Yorkian outing! Open since 1917, the Drama Book Shop has been a mainstay of the New York theatre scene and a cultural institution for theatrical works. One of my favourite parts of going inside is admiring the decor. They always go all out with the store’s styling, and I’m sure they get some set decorators to help them create these fantastical displays. The most impressive is the “book tornado” that spirals all around the store.Whirling you into a dizzying book-buying frenzy!

Although the shop has been open for over 100 years, it only recently moved to this new location. The new shop was designed by “Hamilton” set designer David Korins. It was created to pay homage to twentieth-century European cafes and reading rooms. So, in addition to all 8,000 playbooks, they also have a full-service cafe! Historic posters from Broadway’s past line the walls. If you are a thespian book lover, you’ll be in heaven. But it’s not just playbooks and musical scores that you’ll find here. There are many books about acting, non-fiction about the famous plays that made Broadway what it is today, and a fantastic collection of biographies from renowned actors and writers. If you ever wanted to know the secrets of the stage, you’ll find them in the books here.

I hope you enjoyed this literary shopping tour of New York City Bookshops! Let me know in the comment which one was your favourite or any that I might have missed!

Happy Travels, Adventurers!

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (28)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (29)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (30)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (31)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (32)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (33)
The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (34)

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (35)

The 15 Best Bookshops in New York City, a Bookworms Guide to NYC - The Creative Adventurer (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated:

Views: 6131

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.