The 24 Coolest Bookstores in NYC to Support

There are dozens of bookstores in New York City with their own mission, story, and personality. They’re also community third spaces, as they host events for people to connect. As a local New Yorker and bookworm, I want to encourage you to support your local NYC bookstore. Since, New York’s bookstores are actually disappearing! According to the Gothamist, in 1950 we had 385 bookstores, just in Manhattan! Today we have less than 100. Here is my list of the coolest bookstores in NYC worth the visit.

I. The Best and Coolest New York Bookstores

1. Mil Mundos Books 

This activist Spanglish volunteer-run community bookstore in Bushwick is dedicated to celebrating the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous heritage. Aside from hosting events such as readings, book clubs, and school trips, Mil Mundos Books also provides 6-week online Spanish language classes suitable to all skill levels for those who want to master the language in a fun and engaging way! The bookstore is also a space where teenagers can do their homework and has a non-profit arm, Mil Mundos en Común, which accepts donations to support families in need!

  • Location: 323 Linden St., Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Daily (12 PM – 7 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Bilingual, promotes Black, Latinx, and Indigenous heritage preservation, offers Spanish language workshops, and supports families in need.

2. Yu & Me Books

This woman-owned bookstore in Manhattan’s Chinatown includes Asian and Asian-American literature, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to explore diverse perspectives and cultural narratives. I also love their queer selection of featured books. With its friendly staff, cute coffee bar stand, reading nooks, and carefully curated collection, Yu & Me Books is one of my favorite bookstores in NYC. 

  • Location: 44 Mulberry St., Chinatown, Lower Manhattan
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday, (11 AM – 7 PM); Thursday – Saturday (11 AM – 11 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Yu & Me is the first woman Asian-American-owned bookstore in NYC!

3. The Center for Fiction 

Aside from having a GORGEOUS collection of towering bookshelves, this bookstore is a non-profit organization that supports emerging writers. In fact, they have a beautiful writer’s studio space. With its welcoming atmosphere and strong mission, The Center for Fiction offers a diverse array of events, workshops, programs, and readings dedicated to celebrating the art of storytelling!

  • Location: 15 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Daily (11 AM – 8 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: Besides having a stunning interior, this bookstore advocates for emerging writers and has a beautiful writers’ studio! 

4. Bluestockings Cooperative Bookstore

This SWer, queer, trans and activist bookstore offers unique insights into progressive movements. It features an extensive collection of books that focus on women, LGBT, and other marginalized groups and social justice topics. With its inclusive space, Bluestockings provides a dynamic, safe environment where visitors can participate in dialogue, education, and training for positive change.

I love their Give-and-Take Wall which allows visitors to pledge at least a dollar, which is used to share cash, a book, or a cup of coffee with strangers! 

  • Location: 116 Suffolk St., Lower East Side, Manhattan
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday (12 PM – 7 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Bluestockings is a queer, trans+SWer cooperatively-owned activist bookstore. 

5. The Ripped Bodice

Romance lovers, this is your spot. This queer, women-owned bookstore in New York City is a must-visit for its diverse collection of romance fiction titles for all ages. In addition to its cool decor and reading nook, The Ripped Bodice hosts various events such as book launches, writing workshops, and book clubs. You can also find cute gift items by independent women-owned businesses available for purchase!

  • Location: 218 5th Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn 
  • Hours: Monday – Friday (11 AM – 7 PM); Saturday (10 AM – 8 PM); Sunday (10 AM – 7 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Focuses only on romance books and it is queer women-owned.

6. Cafe con Libros

This intersectional feminist community bookstore and coffee shop owned by an Afro-Latinx couple offers a space for exploring literature that amplifies diverse voices and perspectives. The cafe hosts community events, book clubs, and discussions centered around social justice and empowerment, fostering meaningful dialogue and connections. With its inclusive environment, delicious coffee, and thoughtfully curated book selection, Cafe con Libros provides a haven for those seeking intersectional feminist literature and vibrant community engagement in the city.

Bonus: If you need a constant supply of feminist readings or want to diversify your book choice, you can avail their monthly Feminist & Bookish subscription!

  • Location: 724 Prospect Pl, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Friday (9 AM – 3 PM); Weekends (9 AM – 5 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Afro-Latinx-owned, feminist-focused, has a cafe, and outdoor street seating.

7. Books Are Magic

Another cute independent bookstore in NYC, Books are Magic has a carefully curated yet diverse selection of books for all ages and various interests. Some of their categories include banned, LGBTQ+ books, and signed books. Aside from a decent-sized section for kids, they also have seasonal recommendations such as Black History Month.

With its cozy atmosphere, Books are Magic also hosts book events, creating a welcoming space for readers to discover new reads and engage with the literary community! They also support Brooklyn Book Bodega, a non-profit that provides underprivileged kids with access to books.

Bonus: Books are Magic is owned by author Emma Straub.

  • Location: 225 Smith St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn / 122 Montague St., Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Daily (10 AM – 6 PM) 
  • Why visit this bookstore: Supports Brooklyn Book Bodega, great location, has a nice kids’ section.

8. Dear Friend Books + Bar

This NYC bookstore bar is home to a selection of artsy and vintage books and vinyl records. Dear Friend Books is a great date night bar where you can order a glass of wine, beer, tea, or kombucha. Escape into its wooden, cozy interiors or relaxing patio, for some solace. They also host various events such as writing workshops, exhibits, and Halloween nights!

  • Location: 343A Tompkins Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Weekdays (4 PM – 11 PM); Weekends (11 AM – 11 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Woman-founded, cool interior bar space and patio.

9. Book Club Bar

This bookstore bar is the perfect cozy getaway for book lovers to relax in the company of fellow book nerds. The Book Club Bar welcomes readers with its cute atmosphere, shelves of books, and bar. Tea, wine, locally roasted coffee, or New York State craft beers—they have it—and at a reasonable price! Their cocktails are creatively named after famous authors and novels. 

Additionally, the bar hosts engaging book-themed events and readings. If you wish to sit outdoors, their backyard is available, too!

  • Location: 197 E 3rd St., East Village, Manhattan
  • Hours: Sunday – Wednesday (9 AM – 12 AM); Thursday – Saturday (9 AM – 1 AM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: Book Club Bar is a bookstore/bar, making it a cool third space for readers who want to hang out with a book and drinks!

10. Sweet Pickle Books

Sweet Pickle Books is one of the most unique bookstores in NYC. Here, you can trade your used books and records for a jar of pickles (which come in different flavors)—a wonderful and sustainable way to promote reading! The staff is nice, and if you cannot find the book you’re looking for, you can request it from them! Check out their cute branded caps.

  • Location: 47 Orchard St., Lower East Side, Manhattan
  • Hours: Daily (11 AM – 7 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: You can trade your books for pickles at this woman-owned bookstore!

11. Sister’s Uptown Bookstore 

This NYC bookstore is a Black-family-owned bookshop slash community resource center that fosters connections through its diverse selection of Black-American-focused books. They also host engaging events such as author readings, book clubs, and discussions, creating a vibrant space for intellectual exchange and celebration of black voices. With its welcoming and warm atmosphere and commitment to representing underrepresented voices, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore stands out as a vital cultural cornerstone in the city, making it one of the best bookstores in Manhattan!

  • Location: 1942 Amsterdam Ave, Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (12 PM – 6 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Sister’s Uptown Bookstore is a women and Black family-owned bookshop slash community resource center with meetups!

12. The Lit Bar 

This Afro-Latina owned establishment is not only one of the best independent bookstores in NYC, it is the first one in the Bronx! With a unique fusion of books and wine, The Lit Bar creates a cozy retreat where literary exploration meets socializing over a glass of vino, making it a perfect place for readers who also love the drink! Not only do they feature books mostly written by writers of color, they also host events for them, too!

  • Location: 131 Alexander Ave., Mott Haven, Bronx
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (12 PM – 7 PM); Sunday (12 PM – 5 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Only indie bookstore in the Bronx. Afro-Latina owned. Great location. Spacious bar in the back.

13. World’s Borough Bookshop 

This community-driven, first-generation Latino-owned bookstore features only books written by people of color, further representing the neighborhood of Jackson Heights. True to its mission of amplifying the voices of  BIPOC, World’s Borough Bookshop hosts community discussions and book launches. 

  • Location: 3406 73rd St., Jackson Heights, Queens
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday (11 AM – 1 PM; 2 PM – 8 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Latino-owned and features only books by BIPOC writers. 

14. Bauman Rare Books

This bookstore has housed an exquisite collection of rare books since 1973. With its expert staff and curated selection, Bauman Rare Books offers a unique opportunity to discover ancient, rare, and first-edition books. If I am being honest, the place looks more like a museum library than a bookstore! Make sure to check in with them first before visiting because their availability is by scheduled appointment!

  • Location: 485 Madison Ave Suite 402, Midtown East, Midtown Manhattan
  • Hours: By Appointment
  • Why visit this bookstore: Rare and antique books + one of the old bookstores in NYC.

15. McNally Jackson

This woman-owned independent bookstore has an expansive selection, a knowledgeable staff, and a bustling calendar of events catering to diverse interests and tastes. With its GORGEOUS atmosphere and curated collection at every location, McNally Jackson provides a vibrant literary hub where book lovers can discover new reads, attend book signings, and engage with the literary community.

  • Multiple Locations: SoHo, *Seaport, Rockefeller Center, Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn
  • Hours: Daily (10 AM – 8 PM); *Seaport branch closes at 9 PM
  • Why is this bookstore special: Beautiful locations, a stunning interior with a seating area, an expansive collection of books, and it is woman-owned.

16. Astoria Bookshop 

This small, queer-woman-owned Queens gem intentionally celebrates Black voices, features banned books, as well as LGBTQIA+, native, and indigenous reads. Some of Astoria Bookshop’s book clubs cater to those who support and practice feminism and mindfulness. To make the most of your experience here, you can join their events such as writing workshops as well as book readings and discussions.

  • Location: 36-19 30th St., Astoria, Queens
  • Hours: Daily (11 AM – 7 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Queer, woman-owned and one of the few indie bookstores in Queens!

17. Word Up Community Bookshop

Word Up Community Bookshop provides book access to underprivileged communities. They also provide other resources such as free COVID tests and keep a “People’s Fridge” stocked outside for those who need them. This bookstore is also a volunteer-run bookshop and an art space is a hub for literature and community events! This makes it one of the coolest bookstores in NYC. 

  • Location: 2113 Amsterdam Ave., Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan
  • Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (12 PM – 6 PM; Friday – Sunday (1 PM – 4 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Word Up is a woman-owned, non-profit, volunteer-run bookshop that serves the community.

18. Argosy Book Store

If you love antiques, this 6-story bookstore might be the best spot to browse antiquarian out-of-print and rare books or maps. The place is well-maintained, and the vintage books are in great shape. Established in 1925, Argosy Book Store is the oldest independent New York City bookstore, making it an institution in the city. If you’re looking for a signed copy of an old book, their knowledgeable staff might find it for you!

  • Location: 116 E 59th St. Midtown East, Midtown Manhattan
  • Hours: Weekdays (11 AM to 6 PM); Saturdays (September 30th – Mid-May) (11 AM – 6 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Argosy is the oldest independent bookstore in NYC.

19. Housing Works Bookstore 

This bookstore has a dual appeal: it offers a large stock of used books and supports a worthy cause, as ALL proceeds from book sales go towards fighting homelessness and AIDS. With its inviting atmosphere and community events, Housing Works Bookstore provides a space where book lovers can make a positive impact while enjoying literary exploration. It also has a cafe and a small thrift store inside.

Bonus: Housing Works Bookstore has a nice interior, making it a setting for one of Taylor Swift’s music videos.

  • Location: 126 Crosby St., SoHo, Lower Manhattan
  • Hours: Daily (11 AM – 8 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: Housing Works Bookstore is a non-profit fighting homelessness and AIDS + have a cafe and small thrift shop.

20. The Mysterious Bookshop

Enter another world in this bookshop, which has boasted an extensive collection of mystery fiction titles since 1979. Whether you’re searching for classic whodunits or the latest suspenseful thrillers, The Mysterious Bookshop allows you to immerse yourself in the world of mystery fiction. In addition to book signings and other events, they also have a book subscription club.

  • Location: 58 Warren St., Tribeca, Lower Manhattan
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday (11 AM – 7 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: The Mysterious Bookshop is the oldest and largest mystery fiction specialty bookstore in the country.

21. Albertine

This French bookstore sells… you guessed it, books by French authors! Many are in French and some are translated into English. It is located above the French Embassy and therefore can also serve as a spot for French and American cultural exchange. Another thing that makes Albertine a special place is the gorgeous hand-painted ceiling mural of stars and planets. 

Bonus: Albertine is a great stop if you’re visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art (right in front).

  • Location: 972 5th Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan
  • Hours: Daily (10 AM – 6 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: A project by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, it’s a great place to get books by French authors. 

22. Strand

This NYC class was established in 1927. The Strand has almost 23 miles of shelves and over 2.5 million used, rare, and new books, covering topics from the occult to romance and finance. Today, the Strand is a cornerstone of New York City’s literary culture and is the largest bookstore here! 

If you get too overwhelmed by the many books in this place, you can always grab one from their blind date with a book section! They also buy gently used books.

  • Multiple Locations: 828 Broadway, Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan (Main) // 450 Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side, Manhattan
  • Hours: Weekday (10 AM – 8 PM) // Monday – Saturday (10 AM – 8 PM); Sunday (10 AM–7 PM)
  • Bonus: The Strand has a kiosk at Central Park (10 AM – dusk) and a branch at LaGuardia Airport Terminal B (3:30 AM – 7 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: The Strand is the largest bookstore in New York City. And a classic!

23. Adanne Bookstore

This Black woman educator-owned bookstore in Bed-Stuy is a great place for readers to browse titles written by authors of color on its carefully curated shelves. Aside from hosting a book club, they also hold events such as creative and educational workshops. Check out Adanne Bookstore’s Instagram page for more info!

Committed to being an inclusive, accessible, and educational space, where readers can share knowledge and understanding, Adanne Bookstore is currently revamping a part of the bookstore to make space for reading.

  • Location: 115 Ralph Avenue, Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (11 AM – 7 PM); Friday – Saturday (11 AM – 8 PM); Sunday (12 PM  – 6 PM)
  • Why visit this bookstore: Black woman-owned + promotes works by authors of color.

24. Greenlight Bookstore

Located in the heart of Fort Greene, Greenlight Bookstore has been a part of the neighborhood for 15 years now! They offer big-name book events (I once walked by and saw Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie doing a talk) and they also host four monthly book clubs, differing from reading type and audience: fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and tween. Don’t miss all of the amazing restaurants in Fort Greene while you’re in the neighborhood!

  • Location: 686 Fulton St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
  • Hours: Daily (10 AM – 10 PM)
  • Why is this bookstore special: Greenlight Bookstore is women-owned. Great location. Live events. 

II. Best Bookstores NYC: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the most famous bookshop in New York?

The Strand Bookstore is the most famous bookshop in NYC. Although it has different branches today, the original bookstore near Union Square remains the most popular.

Q: What is the oldest bookstore in New York City?

Argosy is known as the oldest independent bookshop in NYC. But the Drama Book Shop may actually be the oldest bookstore in NYC, as it was technically founded in 1917.

Q: How many bookstores are in NYC?

In a 2019 report by The Guardian, according to the Strand Bookstore, New York City is home to less than 80 bookstores. We’re losing bookstores! This is why it’s great to support these spaces.

Q: Where is the biggest bookstore in NYC?

The Strand near Union Square is the biggest bookstore in NYC, with nearly 23 miles of books on display!

III. My Other New York City Blog Posts

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