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Driely S.

New York City's 20 Best Independently Owned Bookstores, Mapped

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Driely S.

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Step one: Put down the e-reader. Step two: Back away from the Barnes & Noble. We don't need to tell you about the state of independent bookstores in this economy, so it's more important than ever to support (and celebrate!) the ones that remain. Luckily, New York City still has a robust selection of small-business booksellers, from general interest shops to those that specialize in rare and out-of-print titles in subjects like art and cooking. Check out the 20 stores we've highlighted here, and plan on making some room on the bookshelf before checking them out in person.

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1. Book Culture

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This recently-opened location is the mini-chain's third in city, with the original two further north in Morningside Heights. Their stock slants academic due to their proximity to Columbia (heck, their staff even recommended Beowulf for the beach, but there's also generous sections for mainstream titles and children's lit. [Photo]

2. Westsider Rare & Used Books Inc.

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(212) 362-0706
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What does this Broadway shop specialize in? Oh, just "fiction, modern first editions, art, illustrated books, graphic design, children's books, architecture, antiques and collectibles, Asian, [and] African American," titles, according to their site—so, everything. The owners also have a counterpart music store on 72nd Street. [Photo]

3. Idlewild Books

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(212) 414-8888
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The Flatiron shop is basically a prerequisite before heading abroad: Classes in several foreign languages take place in the same space that houses travel guides and international lit. Brooklynites can check out the Cobble Hill spot and newly-opened Williamsburg shop inside the Bedford Mini-Mall. [Photo]

4. The Astoria Bookshop

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(718) 278-2665
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Serving the Western Queens population with the latest and greatest in literature is the Astoria Bookshop, which highlights authors native to the borough and offers a discount on their book club's upcoming discussion title. [Photo: Driely S.]

5. Argosy Book Store

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(212) 753-4455
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The family-owned shop that's survived in midtown for 90 years fills six whole floors of antiquarian and out-of-print titles with a focus on Americana, maps and photographs, and the history of science and medicine. Get a warm-up before heading inside by checking out the $3 anthology section in its recessed outdoor entryway. [Photo]

6. Posman Books

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(212) 489-9100
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The family-owned New York City mini-chain has snagged some high-profile spots in Manhattan—aside from this location, they also have a large Chelsea Market shop and a forthcoming Brookfield Place store. They supplement new and bestselling titles in fiction and nonfiction with a hearty kids' section, NYC-centric titles, and greeting cards. [Photo]

7. 192 BOOKS

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(212) 255-4022
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Opened in 2003 by a husband (who works for a book company) and wife (who owns at art gallery) team, this light-filled Chelsea shop slightly leans toward art books and art literature but does have a well-rounded selection of bestsellers, children's books, and favorite fiction from the near and distant past. Art exhibitions here are frequent, as are readings and other literary events. [Photo]

8. Books of Wonder

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(212) 989-3270
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You don't need to have a single-digit age to be left wide-eyed by this store—lots of the books available here, which include old and rare titles among them, are suitable for both the young and the young at heart. [Photo]

9. Three Lives & Company

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(212) 741-2069
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If you think you're well-read, you haven't met the West Village staff of this store that was once referred to as a "pocket of civility." Come here to pick their brains (and their books) if you believe "Kindle" is a four-letter word. [Photo]

10. Strand Bookstore

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(212) 473-1452
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The Strand is so deeply woven into the fabric of New York that it routinely makes our list of the city's essential stores. Among their signature "18 miles of books?" New arrivals, signed first editions, classics, kids books, cookbooks, rare titles, art books...you get the idea. [Photo: Driely S.]

11. Word

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(718) 383-0096
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The couple behind the Greenpoint shop that has everything from book clubs to children's reading hours to a basketball league (yes, really) opened up a Jersey City location in the winter of 2013. Be sure to reach out to the friendly staff for their latest favorites among the well-edited shelves. [Photo]

12. Spoonbill & Sugartown Books

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(718) 387-7322
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Opened in 1999, Williamsburg’s Spoonbill and Sugartown has been around longer than most of the neighborhood’s residents. Expect to find a mix of contemporary fiction, alt classics, indie magazines, and Moleskine notebooks. Bonus: the shop is home to a great bookstore cat. [Photo]

13. Molasses Books

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(631) 882-5188
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This Bushwick barter-based bookshop also sells coffee, beer, and wine. Pay cash ($5 to $8) for a used title, or a bring in a stack of your own books and trade them in for new reads or $3 beers. [Photo]

14. Community Bookstore

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(718) 783-3075
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Park Slope’s Community Bookstore, which opened in 1971, holds the honor of being Brooklyn’s oldest bookseller. Its dark wooden shelves, stained glass windows, and reading garden (complete with turtle pond) lend the space a cozy vibe, and staff members are quick to offer recommendations. [Photo]

15. Greenlight Bookstore

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(718) 246-0200
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Want a little extra space while you browse? The Fort Greene shop, which exists thanks to serendipitous mix of a winning business plan and a neighborhood's desire for books, offers plenty of space between its shelves, which also serves well for its several in-store events. [Photo]

16. BookCourt

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(718) 875-3677
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located just a few blocks off of Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill—boasts a comprehensive selection of books about New York City, as well as a stocked children’s section. Make sure to check out their events calendar—the shop often hosts readings by literary stars like Martin Amis and Renata Adler. [Photo]

17. McNally Jackson Books

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(212) 274-1160
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Until the Williamsburg outpost opens up alongside Aesop, Steven Alan Home, and Blue Bottle Coffee, head to the original Nolita spot for two floors of books, fashion magazines, a Stumptown brew, or one of their many author readings and signings. [Photo: Brian Harkin]

18. St. Mark's Bookshop

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(212) 260-7853
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After a tumultuous 2014, St. Mark's Bookshop has landed in its new home that's a bit southeast from its namesake street. The owners took advantage of every square inch of its smaller digs, covering the walls in shelving to bring customers the great selection they've come to expect from the 38-year-old store. [Photos]

19. Mast Books

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(646) 370-1114
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Walk into the Avenue A shop and travel back to the "good ol' days" of the East Village. The bookseller (and buyer) specializes in rare art, fashion, design, photography, and music titles from the past several decades. [Photo]

20. Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks

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(212) 989-8962
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New York's home for rare and out-of-print cookbooks moved to the East Village earlier this year thanks to a family's generous donation, and its new home boasts more shelf space and a cute backyard. [Photo]

1. Book Culture

450 Columbus Ave New York, NY 10024
This recently-opened location is the mini-chain's third in city, with the original two further north in Morningside Heights. Their stock slants academic due to their proximity to Columbia (heck, their staff even recommended Beowulf for the beach, but there's also generous sections for mainstream titles and children's lit. [Photo]

2. Westsider Rare & Used Books Inc.

2246 Broadway New York, NY 10024
What does this Broadway shop specialize in? Oh, just "fiction, modern first editions, art, illustrated books, graphic design, children's books, architecture, antiques and collectibles, Asian, [and] African American," titles, according to their site—so, everything. The owners also have a counterpart music store on 72nd Street. [Photo]

3. Idlewild Books

12 W 19th St New York, NY 10011
The Flatiron shop is basically a prerequisite before heading abroad: Classes in several foreign languages take place in the same space that houses travel guides and international lit. Brooklynites can check out the Cobble Hill spot and newly-opened Williamsburg shop inside the Bedford Mini-Mall. [Photo]

4. The Astoria Bookshop

31-29 31st St Queens, NY 11106
Serving the Western Queens population with the latest and greatest in literature is the Astoria Bookshop, which highlights authors native to the borough and offers a discount on their book club's upcoming discussion title. [Photo: Driely S.]

5. Argosy Book Store

116 E 59th St New York, NY 10022
The family-owned shop that's survived in midtown for 90 years fills six whole floors of antiquarian and out-of-print titles with a focus on Americana, maps and photographs, and the history of science and medicine. Get a warm-up before heading inside by checking out the $3 anthology section in its recessed outdoor entryway. [Photo]

6. Posman Books

30 Rockefeller Plz New York, NY 10112
The family-owned New York City mini-chain has snagged some high-profile spots in Manhattan—aside from this location, they also have a large Chelsea Market shop and a forthcoming Brookfield Place store. They supplement new and bestselling titles in fiction and nonfiction with a hearty kids' section, NYC-centric titles, and greeting cards. [Photo]

7. 192 BOOKS

192 Tenth Ave New York, NY 10011
Opened in 2003 by a husband (who works for a book company) and wife (who owns at art gallery) team, this light-filled Chelsea shop slightly leans toward art books and art literature but does have a well-rounded selection of bestsellers, children's books, and favorite fiction from the near and distant past. Art exhibitions here are frequent, as are readings and other literary events. [Photo]

8. Books of Wonder

18 W 18th St New York, NY 10011
You don't need to have a single-digit age to be left wide-eyed by this store—lots of the books available here, which include old and rare titles among them, are suitable for both the young and the young at heart. [Photo]

9. Three Lives & Company

154 W 10th St New York, NY 10014
If you think you're well-read, you haven't met the West Village staff of this store that was once referred to as a "pocket of civility." Come here to pick their brains (and their books) if you believe "Kindle" is a four-letter word. [Photo]

10. Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway New York, NY 10003
The Strand is so deeply woven into the fabric of New York that it routinely makes our list of the city's essential stores. Among their signature "18 miles of books?" New arrivals, signed first editions, classics, kids books, cookbooks, rare titles, art books...you get the idea. [Photo: Driely S.]

11. Word

126 Franklin St Brooklyn, NY 11222
The couple behind the Greenpoint shop that has everything from book clubs to children's reading hours to a basketball league (yes, really) opened up a Jersey City location in the winter of 2013. Be sure to reach out to the friendly staff for their latest favorites among the well-edited shelves. [Photo]

12. Spoonbill & Sugartown Books

218 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY 11249
Opened in 1999, Williamsburg’s Spoonbill and Sugartown has been around longer than most of the neighborhood’s residents. Expect to find a mix of contemporary fiction, alt classics, indie magazines, and Moleskine notebooks. Bonus: the shop is home to a great bookstore cat. [Photo]

13. Molasses Books

770 Hart St Brooklyn, NY 11237
This Bushwick barter-based bookshop also sells coffee, beer, and wine. Pay cash ($5 to $8) for a used title, or a bring in a stack of your own books and trade them in for new reads or $3 beers. [Photo]

14. Community Bookstore

143 7th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215
Park Slope’s Community Bookstore, which opened in 1971, holds the honor of being Brooklyn’s oldest bookseller. Its dark wooden shelves, stained glass windows, and reading garden (complete with turtle pond) lend the space a cozy vibe, and staff members are quick to offer recommendations. [Photo]

15. Greenlight Bookstore

686 Fulton St Brooklyn, NY 11217
Want a little extra space while you browse? The Fort Greene shop, which exists thanks to serendipitous mix of a winning business plan and a neighborhood's desire for books, offers plenty of space between its shelves, which also serves well for its several in-store events. [Photo]

16. BookCourt

163 Court St Brooklyn, NY 11201
located just a few blocks off of Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill—boasts a comprehensive selection of books about New York City, as well as a stocked children’s section. Make sure to check out their events calendar—the shop often hosts readings by literary stars like Martin Amis and Renata Adler. [Photo]

17. McNally Jackson Books

52 Prince St New York, NY 10012
Until the Williamsburg outpost opens up alongside Aesop, Steven Alan Home, and Blue Bottle Coffee, head to the original Nolita spot for two floors of books, fashion magazines, a Stumptown brew, or one of their many author readings and signings. [Photo: Brian Harkin]

18. St. Mark's Bookshop

136 E 3rd St New York, NY 10009
After a tumultuous 2014, St. Mark's Bookshop has landed in its new home that's a bit southeast from its namesake street. The owners took advantage of every square inch of its smaller digs, covering the walls in shelving to bring customers the great selection they've come to expect from the 38-year-old store. [Photos]

19. Mast Books

66 Avenue A New York, NY 10009
Walk into the Avenue A shop and travel back to the "good ol' days" of the East Village. The bookseller (and buyer) specializes in rare art, fashion, design, photography, and music titles from the past several decades. [Photo]

20. Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks

28 E 2nd St New York, NY 10003
New York's home for rare and out-of-print cookbooks moved to the East Village earlier this year thanks to a family's generous donation, and its new home boasts more shelf space and a cute backyard. [Photo]