There are thousands of small bookstores in New York, each with their own special character. At smaller stores, the employees are usually familiar with the merchandise and capable of giving intelligent advice. We encourage you to support small businesses; to them, each customer matters.
116 E 59th btwn Park & Lexington Aves, 212-753-4455, firstname.lastname@example.org They are very strong in used hardcover fiction (no SF though), particularly older things from say circa 1920, like James Branch Cabell. They also sell old prints, Americana, antique and used books, maps, and prints. People have noted that the owners are knowledgeable about the value of their books and you'll have to hunt for bargains. It is about five stories high and is one of those books-stacked-up-the- walls-to-the-ceiling places; dim, musty, dense, mysterious. You get the feeling that you could find anything at all there if you only looked long enough.
1140 Broadway btwn 26th & 27th, 212-532-0019 Railroads.
1771 Broadway at 57th, 212-581-5352 A good stock of new books. An independent. "Coliseum is vast and carries everything that is in somebody's mainstream; it is the only place I know, for example, to purchase a copy of QUOTATIONS OF CHAIRMAN MAO off the shelf." (But see below for a bookstore in Chinatown that also has it.) "Coliseum is large, and has a wide selection. I have not found the staff to be very helpful. I wanted to special order a book, and was told I could only do it Mon-Fri during daytime hours. Looking through the literature section, I found that they had nearly every single Martin Amis book, but none by Kingsley Amis--not even LUCKY JIM. They have a terrific poetry section." There are remainders downstairs. The basement is also where the posters and sports and arts etc. books are.
Complete Traveller Bookstore
199 Madison Ave at 35th, 212-685-9007, FAX 212-982-7628 Important collection of maps, guides and books. Very knowledgeable staff composed largely of travel-addicts, as opposed to the younger Rand-McNally staff. A lot of travel commentary books as well as strict guide books. They also have a large room of old (and expensive) travel and history books.
897 1st Ave btwn 50th & 51st, 212-751-3839 General.
Drama Book Shop
723 7th Ave at 48th, second floor, 212-944-0595 Theater, film, and performing arts. One of the most complete collection of plays I've seen, including British imports. Includes both playscripts a la French's and books of plays, as well as everything about drama et al. The one "gap" seemed to be in Yiddish plays (in translation).
Fil Caravan Inc.
240 E56th Suite 2E, 212-421-5972 Books on Middle Eastern culture, philosophy, etc.
General Medical Book Company
333 E29th, 212-532-0756
12 W37th, 212-594-6065 Boating and marine.
Gotham Book Mart
41 W 47th btwn 5th & 6th Aves, 212-719-4448 New and used. Excellent poetry, literature, philosophy, etc. Over a hundred years old. Practically unique in the world. Arthur Miller once said, "The Gotham Book Mart & Gallery is invaluable as a source of books for research of all kinds, and perhaps above all for literature that is more than a few months old. It is impossible to imagine New York City without it." The major drawback is that it is closed on Sundays, which is when I'm usually in the area.
Gozlan's Sefer Israel Inc.
28 West 27th Street, Suite 402, 212-725-5890, FAX 212-689-6534. Jewish books and Judaica. "Importers of Israeli Books and Judaica. I have had good experience with this importer, and have ordered the *excellent* Rav Milon Hebrew-English dictionary from them at a good price, with prompt service. They have a list of about 29 texts, tapes, videos on Hebrew language instruction graded at six different levels of instruction. This seems like a good place to look for serious Hebrew educational materials. "
Hagstrom Map & Travel Center
57 W 43rd btwn Madison & Park Aves, 212-398-1222 Travel books (of course).
Hotalings News Agency
624 W52nd, 212-840-1868 Carries foreign-language periodicals and some books.
Jewish Book Center of the Workmen's Circle
45 E 33rd btwn Park & Madison Aves, 212-889-6800 x285 or 800-922-2558 Judaica and Jewish books in English and Yiddish.
Jim Hanley's Universe
4 W33rd, 212-268-7088 Comics. (Also has a downtown store.)
J. Levine Jewish Books and Judaica
5 W 30th btwn 5th & 6th Aves, 212-695-6888, FAX 212-643-1044 "World's largest Judaica selection," mail orders, etc. Over a hundred years old, making it one of the oldest bookstores in New York.
10 W 49th btwn 5th & 6th Aves, 212-765-7766 Japanese books, origami paper, etc. Very large and usually very busy. Japanese tour buses stop here because of its proximity to Rockefeller Center. A bit expensive but much better than any other Japanese bookstore in New York.
Librarie De France/Liberia Hispanica
610 5th Ave, Rockefeller Center A small storefront on the Promenade, near the skating rink, opposite the Teuscher's Chocolate shop. :-) The Promenade is located off of 5th Ave, between 49th and 50th streets, 212-581-8810). At first, the store appears to be very small, but there is a downstairs section with about five or six times the space as the upstairs. I had been in the store several times before I discovered the downstairs section. A very large selection of French novels, short stories, non-fiction, etc. Some newspapers, magazines, and records. They also have a reasonably large selection of dictionaries and instruction books for other languages. Prices tend to be high, though there are occasional sales in their basement. Staff is usually fluent in French.
McGraw-Hill Book Store
1221 6th Ave at 48th in the basement of the McGraw-Hill building., 212-512-4100 People used to say this was the best bet for technical books in the city, especially computer books. Their finance section is also good. However, an astronomer wrote, "The astronomy/earth science section verges on pitiful," and someone else sais that the 'DOS for Dummy's' books are displacing the texts. Some feel that the main Barnes & Noble branch is now a better bet, as well as Book Scientific. All publishers.
Michelin Guides & Maps
610 5th Ave near 49th, 212-581-8810 Librarie De France/Liberia Hispanica.
583 Broadway, 212-343-0460 New and out-of-print books on applied and decorative arts.
The Mysterious Book Shop
129 W56th between 6th and 7th Aves, 212-765-0900 Mystery books and so on. It also has its own publishing company so they also have the latest copies of their own line of mysteries. Book-signings by authors.
New York Astrology Center
350 Lexington Ave, 212-947-3609 A veridical association bookstore, as it is owned and managed by the A.F.A (American Federation of Astrologers).
New York Public Library Bookshop
5th Ave and 42nd, also at 40th St and 5th Ave, 212-930-0869 Gift books.
OAN-Oceanie Afrique Noire Books
15 W 39th btwn 5th & 6th Aves, 212-840-8844 New and used books on Africa and African issues, art, etc. Also Native American books and French-language books.
Patelson's House of Music
160 56th & 6th Ave, just behind Carnegie Hall, 212-582-5840 The best place in NYC for books about music. A huge selection covering all genres. They also are NYC's most-popular source for classical music scores. They can special-order *anything* music-related and will ship.
Penn Concessions Inc.
Penn Station, 34th and 7th Ave, L.I. Concourse, 212-868-0438 also at 1 Pennsylvania Plaza, 212-239-0311 General.
Pierpont Morgan Library Book Shop
Madison at 37th, 212-685-0008 The Library is actually at 29 E 36th btwn Madison & Park Aves. Museum shop.
9 E36th, 212-251-0360
Quest Book Shop
240 E 53rd btwn 3rd & 2nd Aves, 212-758-5521 Theosophy, mysticism, healing, tarot, astrology, etc.
150 East 52nd St., 212-758-7488 Lots of national and international maps, guide books, globes.
31 W 57th btwn 5th & 6th Aves, 212-759-2424 Italian bookstore chain. Probably the premier art, design, and architecture book store in the city. Lots of fun stuff, also foreign books and periodicals. A classy place. New books at list prices. If you like glossy art books at full price try Rizzoli's. In Tibet House. Has a large selection of books on Buddhism and Tibet. Open Mon-Fri.
Russia House Ltd.
253 5th Ave btwn 28th & 29th, 212-685-1010 Russian books, art, etc. "Russian House is the source for all Russian-language literature. Its inventory is replete with literary classics and modern fiction, as well as the finest translations, biographies and non-fiction titles on contemporary social and political topics. Russian House has a huge selection of books for children and adolescents, including world-renown, illustrated fairy tales, children's literature, and educational material. Catalogues are issued quarterly and are available upon request."
828 Broadway, 212-473-1452 A small, good weather outdoors stall. Strand and Albion have similar displays at the NW corner of 5th Ave and 60th (near Central Park entrance).
The Traveller's Complete Bookstore
199 madison, 212-685-9007 Guides, maps, and travel-related books--picture books, language cassettes, airplane reading, history. Also carries a complete line of travel products such as travel irons and money belts. Free catalog available.
United Nations Bookshop
General Assembly Building, E 45 & First Ave,room 32, 212-963-7680, 800-253-9646 Has international affairs books, and UN publications. "The most underappreciated specialty bookstore in NYC. Perhaps it is vastly ignored because one needs to enter into the UN to greet its bevy of bounty. This means that one must wait, often, en queue for the same security check that is administered to all who arrive to visit the more politically sensitive areas of the building. Even though this line becomes visibly long, it does go rather quickly--especially at mid-morning and earlyish mid-afternoon. This is truly a one-of-a- kind resource in international affairs of all sorts, not only those that are UN-sponsored. High quality works dealing with complex international policies, economic systems, and fine basic references are present alongside hard-to-find reports, surveys and studies performed by the United Nations and any of its statutory affiliates. There are some surprises, too. "
Urban Center Books
457 Madison Ave btwn 50th & 51st, 212-935-3592 Great place for architecture/planning/urban design books.
Village Comics/Comic Art Gallery
214 Sullivan, 212-777-2770 Comics. (Also has a downtown store.)
Thanks to Evelyn C. Leeper for some of this information.