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10 Best Book Stores In New York

The hustle and bustle of the big city is not to everyone's taste. New York City is mostly loud and crowded. These qualities are some of the reasons why NYC is such a loved city, although it can be hard to find some peace and quiet.

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The best place to unwind and do some self-reflection is a bookstore. Whether you’re a reader or not, there’s something about a good book store that’s soothing to the soul. Surrounded by the smell of fresh pages and, in some cases, fresh coffee it’s easy to spend your whole afternoon browsing the shelves. Here are 10 book stores in New York City to bring you peace of mind when the outside world gets a little too much.

10 Books Are Magic

Books Are Magic is an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a newer bookstore, founded in 2017, but has had much success since it’s opening. With modern decor like neon signs and Edison style lights, the younger crowd seems to be loving it. It has little nooks for children to read in as well as other “magic” touches to be discovered.

Their Christmas book drive called Secret Snowflake donates books to children in foster care and shelters. If you buy from a selection of children’s books, another copy of it will be sent to a child to brighten up their holidays.

9 Argosy Book Store

Old books are great. They have a particular smell that some people find very comforting. Argosy Book Store specializes in old and rare books. Open since 1925, this family-run store has enough stock to fill up all 6 floors of this building. Their selection of rare books includes many out-of-print items, making this a perfect place to find a one of a kind Christmas present for a book-lover in your life. This book store takes you back in time with its traditional library feel, but it’s run with a passion for literature and it shows.

8 Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore is a New York classic. Open since 1927, it started off on “Book Row” which was essentially six blocks full of book stores. It is now the only bookstore still standing from “Book Row” and continues to strive as the years pass. Strand has expanded over the years to multiple locations and now contains over 2.5 million books. Their inventory is a mix of used, new and rare in every genre you can think of. At Strand Bookstore the books, as well as their clients, are handled with love.

7 Dashwood Books

This Manhattan book shop sells a large variety of art and photography books. They have everything from film to fashion. You definitely won’t find the classics here, but it’s the perfect place for an art student to find some material or inspiration. They are specific in what they do, but they do it well! Dashwood Books may be the best independent photography bookstore in New York City with its selection in inventory. They have rare and valuable books and out-of-print titles as well for all you collectors out there!

6 Arcade Booksellers

Arcade Bookseller is and continues to be the only independent book store in Rye, NY. This shop has served book-lovers for over 30 years and is still standing because of its enthusiasm and passion for literature.

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What makes this book store different from the rest is the owner. Patrick Corcoran has owned this store from the day it opened. He’s knowledgeable about the inventory of his store as well as what’s available. He’s always willing to give a helping hand and has endless title suggestions. With a friendly and helpful staff, you’ll find everything you need at Arcade Booksellers.

5 Housing Works Bookstore Café

This amazing and unique bookstore in downtown New York City has a mission. They are dedicated to bringing awareness of the AIDS crisis and homelessness. Their stock is completely donated and the staff is almost all made up of volunteers. This makes their goal a lot easier and means they are able to donate 100% of their profits to the Housing Works’ lifesaving services. Stocked with an impressive café and bar, this book shop is cozy and perfect for catching up with some friends. Their book selection is big, but their hearts are bigger.

4 192 Books

192 Books is everything you’d want and expect from a traditional book shop. Their books are clean and well kept just like the store in its entirety. Their staff is helpful, kind and knowledgable. Their books are of diverse genres and authors. It’s well organized and well lit with a pleasant atmosphere. The clients are friendly and most of them seem to be locals who visit the store often. They’ve built a loyal client-base since their opening and continue to be a reliable book store in New York City.

3 Bluestockings

Bluestockings has a variety of topics on societal issues. Their inventory of 6,000 books includes topics like feminism, gender studies, climate, and environmental issues, politics, race and black studies and many more.

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You can find your typical poetry or fiction novels, but their mission is to educate people and provide them with titles to help further their understanding of the diverse world we live in. They intend to empower their clients to create an equitable and compassionate world, mindful of the people coexisting in it. Their in-store café offers organic, vegan and fair-trade goods for all their conscientious clients!

2 Shakespeare & Co

This book store and cafe is a Manhattan icon and has been around since 1983. Its high-quality café includes a variety of sandwiches, salads, great coffee and more. Although it is book-centered, not food-centered. Their passion is for books, which explains the catalog of more than 7 million books. Shakespeare & Co have innovative and sustainable technology called the Espresso Book Machines that uses recycled paper to print any book of your choosing from their catalog on the spot all in the time it would take to brew an espresso.

1 Idlewild Books

Idlewild Books has 2 New York locations, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. It’s an independent bookstore and language school! Their selection is focused on travel books and language classes. For any guidebooks, maps and more, Idlewild Books is the place to be. You can also gift their language classes, which can make for a perfect gift this holiday season!

You might be asking about the name. Well, it’s a travel bookstore named after an airport. It’s appropriately named after the original Idlewild airport which is now commonly known as JFK. The name was changed in 1963.

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