clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Where This OUT Editor Finds Used Books in Williamsburg

New, 1 comment

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

New York City has more stores than anyone could physically tackle, but somehow we always keep returning to the usual suspects. To break out of the rut, we've asked some local shopping and fashion gurus to provide their hidden retail gems—those unique stores around our fantastic city that we might not all know about. Cue the Beatles: We're about to get a little help from our friends.

Image via Yelp

Williamsburg resident Adam Rathe wears may hats. He's one of the editors at OUT Magazine, contributes to OUR SHOW fanzine, and scribes for Spin and MTV Hive. The best weird book that he recently purchased was Steve Abbott's The Lizard Club from Williamsburg's Book Thug Nation, a spot where you can grab hardcover books for under a dollar.

New York City has lots of great bookstores, and many of them have a special place in my heart. None of them is as beloved to me, though, as Williamsburg's Book Thug Nation. To begin with, the joint is small—like, Manhattan studio apartment-sized—and seemingly every available space is covered in books, except the corners where a teapot or record player sits. I want to say that sometimes there's a cat hanging out, but I might be imagining things. These aren't your everyday books, though; it's no place to buy your sister the Millennium Trilogy to read during her semester abroad.
Book Thug Nation traffics in Xeroxed fanzines (no wonder, considering zine titan Aaron Cometbus helps run the space), some new literary fiction and musty, well-loved finds: I recently picked up Eileen Myles' Cool For You, a beat-up copy of Ethan Frome and Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers, which came in plastic wrap that makes me pretty sure somebody ganked it from a public library. You can buy books flat out—there's a cart of dollar books out front most of the time—or trade in your own used books for credit, which usually involves one of the delightfully offbeat, friendly and well-read dudes working the register screwing you kind of royally (50 cents for a hardcover, really?), but one can hardly stay mad.
[The shop] brings to mind college towns, the 90s, punk rock and intellectualism; I wouldn't be surprised to walk in and interrupt a Food Not Bombs meeting. I'd probably sit down and hang out for a while. There are other bookstores in town. They probably have better selections, more space and espresso machines. Who cares? Book Thug Nation is the sort of place where I want to spend my money, not only to stock my bookshelves but to do my part in making sure New York stays smart and weird.

· Book Thug Nation [Official Site]
· Adam Rathe [Twitter]
· All Shopping Confidential Posts [Racked NY]

Book Thug Nation

100 N. 3rd St Brooklyn, NY 11211