Best bookstores in New York City

Check out TONY's picks for the city's best indie shops.

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To get a sense of New York as not only a literate, but literary, city, it's a good idea to go where the big writers and readers spend their free time. The independent bookshops on this list represent some of the best places to find out what your fellow city dwellers are consuming and ruminating about; and of course, there are also bargains to be had.

McNally Jackson Books

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

McNally Jackson features a good variety of nonfiction, novels and magazines, as well as an expertly curated selection of children's classics and perennial favorites. Young readers can also swing by for the weekly story and crafts session, which takes on a different theme each Saturday.

  1. 52 Prince St, (between Lafayette and Mulberry Sts)
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Strand Book Store

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time here you can find just about anything, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest of sci-fi pulp.

  1. 828 Broadway, (at 12th St)
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Greenlight Bookstore

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Opened in 2009, this Brooklyn indie is run by owners familiar with the NYC publishing and bookselling worlds, who brought with them an eye for a comfortable space and a selection that goes well beyond best-sellers. Fort Greene locals—many authors themselves—have heartily embraced the place, and the community spirit endows day-to-day operations as well as event series.

  1. 686 Fulton St, (at S. Portland Ave)
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BookCourt

  • Critics choice

Located just a few blocks from Atlantic Avenue, the recently expanded BookCourt is a long-standing independent seller with a great selection and lots of space to browse. The store carries all kinds of books (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's books) and literary periodicals, and spotlights new work by local authors. BookCourt's impressive reading series includes a stellar list of children's book authors.

  1. 163 Court St, (between Dean and Pacific Sts)
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192 Books

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Owned and ‘curated’ by art dealer Paula Cooper and her husband, editor Jack Macrae, 192 offers a strong selection of art books and literature, as well as memoirs and books on gardening, history, politics, design and music. Regular readings, signings and discussions, some featuring well-known writers, are further good reasons to drop by.

  1. 192 Tenth Ave, (between 21st and 22nd Sts)
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The powerHouse Arena

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

PowerHouse publishes beautiful photo books, but the company's loftlike space and gallery in Dumbo hosts all kinds of events, including some of the hottest authors and illustrators in kid lit.

  1. 37 Main St, (at Water St)
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WORD

  • Price band: 1/4

Henry Miller grew up not too far from this quaint literary emporium, and though this independent bookstore carries classics on par with the Tropic of Cancer author, the quaint shop also proffers more up-to-date titles. Weekly literary events are frequent at this bibliophile's hub.

  1. 126 Franklin St, (at Milton St)
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Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

  • Price band: 1/4

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is an extraordinarily unusual and endearing place. The two-level space—which stocks a range of literary fiction, nonfiction, rare books and collectibles—is a peaceful spot for solo relaxation or for meeting friends over coffee or wine. All proceeds from the café go to providing support services for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The premises also host an interesting array of literary events.

  1. 126 Crosby St, (between E Houston and Prince Sts)
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