The 12 Best Bookstores in New York City

picture of the signature red awning and flag of Strand Bookstore in New york city

TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins

New York City has been home to some of the world's most prolific literary icons— like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Dorothy Parke, Truman Capote, Toni Morrison and Edmund White—as well as some of the world's famed publishing houses. Unsurprisingly, NYC also offers a multitude of incredible, destination-worthy bookstores—including some of those publishers' flagships!

From familiar names like Barnes & Noble to secondhand shops and indie neighborhood faves like Brooklyn's WORD or Queens' Astoria Bookshop, these establishments don't just cater to literature lovers. Many specialize in niche publications and genres including photography, art, design, comics and graphic novels, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC works, mystery, feminism, eclectic self-published tomes and zines, and rare tomes. These stores also host guest author signings, panels, spoken word events, and community mixers. Quite a few have in-house cafes to boot!

Here are a dozen of our favorite bookstore to check out in New York City.

01 of 12

Strand Bookstore

Strand Books

Lawrence Ferber

Address
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
Phone +1 212-473-1452

Founded in 1927, the sprawling Strand is NYC's largest and most famous independent and family-owned bookstore, carrying a reported 18 miles worth of books. Like Portland, Oregon's Powell's, the Strand carries a combination of new and second hand tomes (treasures await in the stacks!), including many out-of-print and bargain priced titles - there's a floor devoted to rare, antiquarian and first editions - plus an expansive selection of Strand-branded T-shirts and merchandise. July 2020 saw Strand open a new, boutique-sized second location on the Upper West Side's Columbus Avenue, so add even more miles of books to their inventory - and browsing time to your itinerary.

02 of 12

Forbidden Planet

People browsing bookshelves of comic books at Forbidden Planet bookstore

Lawrence Ferber

Address
832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
Phone +1 212-473-1576

Located just a few storefronts from Strand, this first and only USA sibling to London's flagship store for all things related to sci-fi, horror, and comic books celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021. Besides its impressive selection of graphic novels and new/recent comic books and publications, you'll find action figures, T-shirts, DVDs/Blu-rays, and ephemera including self-published hard-to-find zines.

If you want more comic goodness, also check out Midtown Comics' three Manhattan locations while Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Desert Island Comics stocks a particularly eclectic, curated selection including underground comics.

03 of 12

Dashwood Books

Inside Dashwood Books

Courtesy of Dashwood Books

Address
33 Bond St A, New York, NY 10012-2495, USA
Phone +1 212-387-8520

Photography fans and photographers have made this basement-level NoHo shop a buzzing must since 2005. Dedicated to contemporary photography books from around the world, including some under their own house imprint, from freshly released to extremely hard-to-find, out-of-print tomes. Dashwood often hosts signings by new, edgy shutterbugs and curated the Gucci Wooster Bookshop, located within Soho's Gucci store and worth a look for more fashion-centric (and vintage) selections.

04 of 12

Rizzoli Bookstore

Ornate bookshelf in Rizzoli Bookstore with a black and white tile floor

Courtesy of Rizzoli Bookstore

Address
1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010, USA
Phone +1 212-759-2424

First established in 1964, the fashionable, upscale Rizzoli has occupied several addresses over the decades. It also broke the hearts of many book lovers in 2014 when Rizzoli shuttered its six-story 57th street townhouse location with no set plan to reopen. Happily, July 2015 saw Rizzoli open an engaging and dramatic NoMad flagship story, which includes a children's section at the rear! The bookstore also publishes gorgeous art, photography, fashion, cuisine, decor, architecture, and other tomes.

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05 of 12

McNally Jackson

Exterior of the McNally Jackson bookstore with a few bikes chained to a rack

Desiree Navarro / Contributor / Getty Images

Address
52 Prince St, New York, NY 10012-3309, USA
Phone +1 212-274-1160

Egalitarian in its breadth of selections, this spinoff of a Canadian indie bookstore chain stocks something for everyone, including a small curated selection of international niche magazines like gay bimonthly Elska. The buzzy two-level Nolita store on Prince Street is ideal for browsing all genres including its own "McNally Editions" hidden gem line of paperbacks, plus a great gift card selection. Other McNally Jackson locations include the Seaport, Downtown Brooklyn, and Williamsburg.

06 of 12

Printed Matter, Inc.

shelves and tables filled with books in a high-ceilinged room

Courtesy of Printed Matter, Inc.

Address
231 11th Ave, New York, NY 10001, USA
Phone +1 212-925-0325

Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2021, this nonprofit organization's flagship serves as a two-level retail space and gallery for just about every type of art book and publication you can imagine (and in some cases, objects), especially self-published and obscure. Signings and receptions are frequent, and Printed Matter presents the annual international Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1.

Another excellent and new space dedicated to similar publications, with a particularly rich selection from Mainland China, is the Beijing import Bungee Space, which opened during Summer 2021 in the Lower East Side.

07 of 12

powerHouse Books

A woman holding a book at powerHouse Books

Courtesy of powerHouse Books

Address
32 Adams St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Phone +1 212-604-9074

Brooklyn's buzzy and oft-Instagrammed DUMBO district is the home of a warehouse-style flagship store for this fine art, photography, pop culture and celebrity-centric book publisher. Besides its own releases (2021 titles included powerful photography and essay collection, "The Stolen Daughters of Chibok"), powerHouse stocks a super browsable array of progressive literature, biographies, graphic novels, and children's books. That's in addition to gift items and artwork like signed framed prints by acclaimed, local Japanese-American cartoonist Adrian Tomine.

08 of 12

Bureau of General Services—Queer Division (BGSQD)

Book displays in a pink-walled room with three rectangular windows

Lawrence Ferber

Address
208 W 13th St #210, New York, NY 10011, USA
Phone +1 646-457-0859

One of only about three dozen LGBTQ bookstores in the world, and possibly the newest, the BGSQD was founded by couple Donnie Jochum and Greg Newton as a crowdfunded pop-up shop in 2012. Occupying a spacious room on the second floor of NYC's LGBT Community Center in the West Village since 2014, it stocks a deep, largely new selection of LGBTQ+-interest fiction, nonfiction, art, graphic novels, international magazines, self-published zines, and art, with a robust calendar of events, guests, screenings, and exhibitions.

Also be sure to visit the Lower East Side's 22-year-old Bluestockings Cooperative, a proudly queer, trans, and sex worker-run feminist bookstore that stocks plenty of LGBTQ+ work as well.

Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12

Argosy Book Store

People browsing and reading in cozy bookstore with a lofted second level and tables filled with books

Courtesy of Argosy Book Store

Address
116 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022, USA
Phone +1 212-753-4455

Seen in dozens of movies and TV shows including 2020 Netflix docuseries "Pretend It's a City," 2019's feature "The Goldfinch," and 2019 documentary "The Booksellers," the Argosy is a near century-old destination for first edition and antiquarian book hunters and those seeking an old school NYC atmosphere. Besides coveted and rare books, the Argosy's whopping collection includes vintage maps, prints, posters, and autographs. Yes, Lee Israel actually peddled some of her infamous letter forgeries here, as reenacted in Oscar-nominated 2018 film "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" If you have old tomes that need some TLC, the Argosy also offers binding and restoration services.

10 of 12

Sister's Uptown Bookstore

People browsing books

Courtesy of Sisters UpTown Bookstore

Address
1942 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10032, USA
Phone +1 212-862-3680

The Black female-owned Sisters Uptown opened in Washington Heights in 2000 when founder Janifer P. Wilson and daughter Kori N. Wilson sought to bring a burst of vitality to the local community that would also offer educational, emotional, and spiritual support for the community. The store is dedicated to written and spoken word works by and relevant to African Americans and other talented authors. Some 2021 bestsellers include Sister Souljah's "Life After Death," Ibrim X. Kendi's "Four Hundred Souls," and Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents."

Other fantastic BIPOC-owned indie bookstores include the collectively owned Word Up, Harlem's Revolution Books, and Brooklyn's Cafe con Libros.

11 of 12

The Mysterious Bookshop

Front door and window display of The Mysterious Bookshop at dusk

Courtesy of The Mysterious Bookshop

Address
58 Warren St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Phone +1 212-587-1011

First opened in 1979 in Midtown, this is the country's oldest mystery specialist bookstore though you'll find dozens of others in states including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Illinois, and even bordering New Jersey. The Mysterious Bookshop eventually moved to Tribeca in 2005. Owner/founder Otto Penzler's passion for the genre (and subgenres) led him to write, edit, and publish books, with two Edgar Awards under his belt. One exclusive offering from the bookstore is its Bibliomystery series of short stories (authors have included Joe R. Lansdale and Ian Rankin), available in various editions and price points including signed and numbered.

12 of 12

Bookmarc

Design books on a display shelf at Bookmarc bookstore

Courtesy of Bookmarc

Address
400 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Phone +1 212-620-4021

Located on Bleeker Street across from the Village's iconic Magnolia Bakery flagship (there's always a line even this many years post-"Sex And The City"), designer Marc Jacobs' intensely curated arts-movies-music-design-fashion-centric bookstore opened in 2010 in the former space of Biography Bookshop. There's plenty to browse here, from massive coffee table tomes to the pocket-sized "33 1/3" series on classic albums, plus a selection of non-book merchandise including work by Marc Jacobs himself.

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12 Can't-Miss Bookstores in New York City