Best Bookstores in NYC – The Eccentric and the Popular

Best Bookstores in NYC – The Eccentric and the Popular

The Big Apple has everything a book-loving traveler desires from a destination. The city promises some of the most fascinating literary sights, from the massive New York Public Library to the charm of stepping inside Edgar Allan Poe's house.

For the laidback reader, it has several bookish cafés where you can drink coffee and bite into delicious treats while reading a travel journal or an enticing thriller. Those with a need for extroverted fun will find the literary pub crawl in NYC to be quite the lively affair where cocktails flow freely at book-themed bars and restaurants.

Then there are the bookstores in NYC; quaint, personal, and in many cases, institutions making New York the hottest literary destination in the world. 

The Mysterious Bookshop

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The Mysterious Bookshop is no ordinary stop in your journey to explore the bookstores of NYC, and thus should very well be your first. As the "world's oldest mystery specialty store," it promises a unique experience that starts with a shop packed from floor to ceiling with thrilling reads. Bibliophiles will find everything here, from hardbacks, paperbacks, first editions to rare finds, and the most extensive collection of books on Sherlock Holmes.

Located in TriBeCa, the 40-year-old establishment also publishes limited edition books by authors such as Lee Child and James Ellroy. Their "bibliomystery series" that consist of novellas, centered around a bookish theme, are authentic collectibles you would want to pick up when visiting the bookstore. 

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Books Are Magic

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Books Are Magic is one of the best bookstores in NYC. Home to a collection that spans across genres and interests, it is the friendliness of the staff that makes every visit here all the more special. The three-year-old bookshop in Brooklyn is owned by Michael Fusco-Straub and author Emma Straub, known for writing Modern LoversThe Vacationers, and All Adults Here. The bookstore's uniqueness is in its modern design and little things like a "gumball machine" that dispenses poetry. Books Are Magic is particularly famous for hosting events, talks, and book signings on most days of the week, and for their "hidey hole," a little cubby where kids can lounge and read a book. 

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Argosy Book Store

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Any excursion to visit the many book heavens of NYC is incomplete without a stopover at Argosy Book Store. An iconic destination in the city, it is the "oldest independent bookstore" in New York, now in its third generation of family ownership. Located in midtown Manhattan, Argosy fills up a whopping six floor of prime real-estate with out-of-print books, first editions, and some genuinely rare finds that can only be viewed through their website. While bibliophiles can find a wide range of books at Argosy, they specialize in eccentric and niche genres such as Americana, autographs, photography, and antique maps. Because of the nature of the books they sell, Argosy has a rather old-world charm to it; elegant, sophisticated, and full of bookish delights.

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Strand Bookstore

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There are only a few bookstores in NYC, or the world for that matter, as well known as Strand. The reason being that there's always something going on at this massive store that boasts of having "18 miles of books." Walk-in on any given day, and you might come across a wedding taking place in their Rare Book Room. Heard a scream in the back? It could be someone proposing. Photoshoots of all kinds are a standard fixture too. If you want to experience something different for yourself, you could host a private dinner party after hours. Otherwise, take part in the many events that include book signings, talks, and book release parties. Of course, all said and done, Strand is a bookstore, and if on a rare day nothing much is happening, you can still spend hours browsing through its massive collection of fantastic reads. 

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Books Kinokuniya

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Book lovers madly in love with Japanese culture but stuck all the way across the Pacific, fear not! Book Kinonuiya is the place to be. There are a few specialty bookstores in NYC, but only two that present Japanophiles with a wide range of books and products. Bookoff is the other. Kinokuniya, though, is the most popular book chain in Japan, which started its operations way back in 1927. At their New York bookstore, readers can find a massive collection of English bestsellers, Japanese thrillers, cool stationery, action figures, graphic novels, translations, and manga in both Japanese and English. Bookworms will be delighted to know that they can get the full Japanese experience at the shop by visiting the in-house café that sells bento boxes, ramen noodles, and delicious bubble tea. 

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192 Books

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This Chelsea-based bookstore has a charming character due to its petite size and lovingly curated book selection. Started by NYC gallery-owner Paula Cooper and Jack Macrae, 192 Books comes across as a specialty art bookstore at first. It is only after a bit of prodding that book lovers discover that this hidden gem in NYC has an equally fascinating section on translations, children's books, and other general interest genres. With art exhibitions and book talks a common occurrence on the premises, a visit to 192 Books is a must for anyone wanting to explore the more delicately inspiring side of New York's book culture. 

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Greenlight Bookstore

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Situated in Fort Greene and passionately celebrated by book-loving locals, Greenlight Bookstore is an independent establishment that has achieved considerable fame amongst readers and authors within a short period. With bookshelves spread out, regular book-buyers adore the extra space to browse for their next big find. Greenlight typically has quite a busy events calendar and has hosted many famous authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, who visited the shop shortly after its opening. The book collection at Greenlight covers a variety of genres, including new and old classics, making it ideal for a family book-buying outing.   

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