Best places to buy books in NYC

As an indomitable book lover and incessant reader, I love good independent bookstores. Whenever I’m near one, my inner compass points in that direction. I find bookstores incredibly romantic, wandering the aisles, looking through stacks of books to read, coming across books I remember reading and remembering where I was in my life when I read them and finding hidden gems.

In New York, I have lots of favorite book haunts. It’s an ever-changing growing list, if I’m headed to a new neighborhood, I always seek out the local bookstore.

I call this post, places to BUY a book in NYC because it really irks me that most of the posts about NYC bookstores are called “places to visit.” Parks and museums are places you visit. Bookstores are places you visit too but with the intention of buying a book. If you’re visiting a bookstore, please buy a book if you see something you like. Don’t take a photo and then go home and order it.

I started this post with the intention of writing something unique and quippy about each bookstore - they have amazing live readings! great bookstore cats! swoon-worthy bookish employees! the best staff picks in town! to die for letterpress selections! clever Instagram accounts! - but honestly they ALL have unique personality traits that make them special and a perfect fit for the neighborhood that they’re in. I felt like I was repeating myself.

Bookstores are special places - I might go so far as to call them institutions (whoa) - even if they’re new and not storied parts of a community. So if you’re in a part of NYC and want to get a real sense of the flavor of the neighborhood, find the local bookstore.

My top 12 NYC bookstores

For those book lovers like me, you might notice that I have not included NYC’s specialty book stores (like cooking, mystery books, travel, kids, architecture, comics). You’ll also not see museum bookstores, mention of the awesome library system and the little-known book speakeasy. Those are all saved for separate posts to come soon!

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