The Ten Best Independent Bookstores in New York City

One chilly evening, my husband and I were walking (or waddling) home after stuffing ourselves with ramen from Ippudo. We had recently moved to the city, so every walk was filled with delightful possibility. This one was better then most however, because we walked past a used bookstore, advertising paperbacks for a dollar. How could I resist?!

New York City has some lovely bookstore gems, from cozy, warm spaces with well-thumbed books, to all out glamorous, magazine-worthy marble halls. Here are ten of my favorites, if you love books even half as much as I do, make sure to stop by at-least one during your visit!

THREE LIVES AND COMPANY

This West Village gem is the quintessential bookstore complete with creaky wooden floorboards. Every nook and cranny stuffed with a great selection of books. Definitely stop by for a chat and a book recommendation if you are in the area!

Three Lives and Co. Bookstore in NYC

THE STRAND

A New York City icon, The Strand was recently granted the controversial Landmark Status. This is one of the largest bookstores I’ve been to, an amazing collection of five stories of used and new books. My favorite is the top floor, which features rare books, signed copies and cozy sofas to read on!

The Strand Bookstore in NYC

IDLEWILD BOOKS

This is my favorite travel book store in NYC! Make a visit as soon as you book a trip, or if you are looking for where to go. They also offer language classes to best prepare you for your trip. We took a Spanish course before our trip to Colombia and absolutely loved it!

Idlewild Books in West Village

MCNALLY JACKSON INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS

McNally is my go-to bookstore in SoHo. The bookstore comes with a cute cafe, perfect for curating your selection before buying. I love leafing through their magazine selection as well.

The staff are always helpful, and can order any book you want, just ask! Tip : If you are buying a gift, have them gift-wrap it for you.

Their Williamsburg location is cool too!

WESTSIDER RARE & USED BOOKS

Westsider Books almost closed down earlier this year, but was saved by its die hard fan base. A romantic, old world store on the Upper West Side, stepping into Westsider Books feels like stepping back in time. Books line the walls, and there is a handy ladder to access the ones higher up. The perfect setting for a romantic date night for the more literary minded amongst you.

Westsider Books in NYC

RIZZOLI BOOKSTORE

A very ‘designer’ bookstore in NoMad, this is a fun stop if you are in the Flatiron area. I love it for the artsy content and the glamorous feelings it evokes!

ALABASTER BOOKSHOP

One of my favorite NYC discoveries, we walked past this one cold winter evening, our bellies full of Ramen. Since then, I’ve paid many a visit to find an old book. If you love used books like me, then put this bookstore on your list! It’s small and sweet, but with a great collection of old classics.

BOOKS ARE MAGIC

A lovely Cobble Hill gem, this is a bookstore owned by an actual author! If you liked reading Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers and want a signed copy of any of her other books, you know where to find one! Books are Magic has a great collection of books, and are always happy to order something for you if you don’t find it in store. The space is lovely to browse and/or sit with a book.

If you are in the area, head to Cafe Luluc before or after for pancakes.

Books are Magic Bookstore in Cobble Hill

ARCHESTRATUS BOOKS + FOODS

I loved this concept of a bookstore focussed on cookbooks, old and new! Found a couple of old gems here, including a 1940s recipe on How to Cook a Husband! Pay a visit to this lovely place if you find yourself in Greenpoint, Brooklyn!

EAST VILLAGE BOOKS

A cool little used bookstore in the East Village, you are sure to find a gem here! Make an evening of it by pairing your bookstore visit with cocktails at Death and Co. and dinner at Somtum Der.

East Village Books in NYC

Bonus Entry : CODEX BOOKS in SoHo

I love this used bookstore in SoHo! Their narrow space houses an excellent collection of books that are hard to find in new bookstores.

Here’s a handy map of the bookstores in this post, plus some additional bookstores you can check out if you are in the area!

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