15 of the Best New York City Bookstores

12 Feb 2016

If you’re a bibliophile, one of the best things you can do while traveling is visit all of the cool bookstores that are in the city. Going into these cozy, book-filled havens is sure to make you feel less like a tourist and more like an explorer of sorts. New York City in particular has more than enough unique bookstores to fill your day with some literary excitement. If you’re looking for something to do on your next trip to the Big Apple, we’ve made a list of 15 amazing bookstores throughout the city that you won’t regret visiting. Now excuse me while I buy a ticket to NYC so I can visit all of these stores myself.


Three Lives & Company is a cozy store located in Greenwich Village. Michael Cunningham, 1999 winner of the Pulitzer Prize, called it “one of the greatest bookstores on the face of the Earth,” and it definitely lives up to this name. With a strong community feeling and staff members who are extremely well read, you’ll leave this store with a smile on your face and a fantastic new book in your hands.

Located at 192 Tenth Avenue at 21st Street, 192 Books has a variety of books from everyone’s favorite genres. It has the cozy, intimate atmosphere that indie bookstore fans love, and they also host readings with a many famous authors.

Greenlight Bookstore is located in Brooklyn, and it is a favorite amongst Fort Greene locals. It’s only been around for four years, but it’s thrived in this vibrant community nonetheless. The combined bookstore expertise of Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo made this store a quick success, so it’s a must see for anyone in Brooklyn.

If you want to find a great used or rare book, stop by Strand Book Store at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway. Apparently they have 18 miles of books, which is enough to make any book lover’s heart skip a beat. You’re sure to find something exciting if you wander around for a while. Also, you may be greeted by an adorable little dog name Gizzy, which is a definite bonus.


Housing Works isn’t just any old bookstore. It’s also the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States, and it’s operated entirely by volunteers. The bookstore cafe is just a part of this amazing organization, and the store itself is incredibly beautiful. They host a variety of events here, like readings, intimate concerts, and even weddings.

Word Bookstore in Brooklyn is a small store, but makes up for it with its vibrant personality. From readings to book club meetings, events are always going on at Word. They also opened another location in Jersey City in 2013!

If you’re ever in Brooklyn during the summer, make sure you stop by Community Bookstore. They have a backyard that’s great for an outdoor read, and they’ve also hosted events with famous authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jonathan Safran Foer.

BookCourt, located at 163 Court Street in Brooklyn, is a family-run business that’s been around since 1981. With discounted books and a highly regarded event series, you’re guaranteed to leave this store in a great mood.

Found on 52 Prince Street, McNally Jackson is two floors of pure literary bliss. They have a fantastic selection of books, and the store is beautifully designed. I mean, there are books hanging from the ceiling, so that’s pretty cool. They also have a café in the store, so it always smells amazing when you walk in. A good cup of coffee and a huge stack of books: what’s not to love?

Book Culture has three locations, one of which is located across the street from Tom’s Restaurant (yes, the restaurant from Seinfeld). They have a great selection of academic work, in addition to many of your other favorite genres. Their aim is to provide people with a diverse selection of books that will enrich the lives of the families in the local community.

The Powerhouse Arena isn’t a bookstore in the traditional sense. Launched by publisher powerHouse books, this location is referred to as “a laboratory for creative thought” that hosts events, exhibitions, readings, performances, and more. The arena store is home to an eclectic selection of books and is believed to have the best children’s book corner in NYC.

We couldn’t get through this list without mentioning a comic book store! Forbidden Planet is one of the biggest comic book sellers in the world, and any comic book fan would have the time of their life at this store. They don’t just have comic books— the store is filled with toys, collectibles, apparel, action figures, and more.


Ever wanted to visit the library in The Beauty and the Beast? Then head over to Rizzoli in the NoMad neighborhood, because the store looks as regal as you can get. They specialize in art books, but they still have novels that you’ll love.

Found in Greenwich Village, Left Bank Books specializes in used and rare books. It’s a small, cozy store that you could wander around in for ages, searching for the perfect book.

Idlewild has two locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and their store focuses on travel and languages. They have a plethora of travel guide books, and they also host language classes in a bunch of different languages.


Sarah Pannenberg