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.
211 W 71st west of Broadway, 212-496-7511, FAX 212-721-2856 They specialize in film and theatre; some books that can be found nowhere else.
Asian Rare Books
175 W. 93 Street(16-D) New York, N.Y. 10025 Business by appointment. To visit phone 316 5334.Old & rare books about all ASIA. Website http://www.erols.com/arbs
Bank Street College Bookstore
2879 Broadway, 212-678-1654, FAX 212-316-7026 Education and academic; also children's books. They take phone orders and ship worldwide. "Equal to the West Side Barnes & Noble on hardcover picture books, better on softcover; probably smaller stock on chapter books, almost no series." Credit cards: AE, MC, V.
The Book Ark
173 W 81st at Amsterdam Ave, 212-787-3914, firstname.lastname@example.org Used hardcovers and paperbacks, in all subjects, including foreign titles. Academic titles, especially philosophy, in both English and other major European languages are a particular strength. Also has LPs and CDs.
The Corner Bookstore
1313 Madison Ave at 93rd, 212-831-3554 They specialize in children's books and travel books, but they also have a film connection: not only is this the bookstore where Nick Nolte found the "Renata Halpern" children's book in THE PRINCE OF TIDES, it's also just one block south of the red brick fortress/castle facade featured in THE FISHER KING.
East West Books
78 5th Ave, 212-243-5994 Stocks books on Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Indian Religions; also New Age, self-improvement, health and healing. Cards, jewelry, audio tapes, incense. Good-sized stock. (Also has a downtown store.)
660b Amsterdam, 212-799-9477 Comic books. Smallish.
2246 Broadway btwn 80th & 81st, also at 233 W72nd, 212-362-0706 They have a nice selection of used books, and will do active searches. Enormous literature and history sections. Has charm. The recently expanded new store is on Broadway and is new and shiny; the old store used to be around the corner (at 246 W 80th off Broadway) but is apparently closed now. The Gryphon is probably one of the world centers for Wizard of Oz books. "This place was crammed with books, but there were so many people crammed in there too (not to mention the German shepherd tied to the staircase) that I didn't feel encouraged to stick around and browse." The Annex in/near the old store supposedly sells everything there for 50% off the marked price. "OK, but too expensive." They also have LPs.
Ideal Book Store
1125 Amsterdam at 115th, 212-662-1909 Almost exclusively a humanities and social sciences bookstore. "Ideal has the best philosophy collection in New York, and that includes the Strand. They also have a very extensive collection of Judaica. The books are used but the proprietor is a stickler for only shelving books in the best possible condition. I recently went looking for a biography of and primary works by Simone Weil and Ideal had everything I needed where most places--again, including the Strand, which I love--had very little." .
International Center of Photography Bookstore
1133 Ave of Americas, 212-860-1767 Photography books.
The Judaica Experience
226 W 72nd, phone/FAX 212-724-2424 A very good collection of Judaica and good children's books and tapes. They sell primarily gifts, books, and tapes. The owners are very helpful and attentive. Their prices seemed to match or was cheaper (for gifts) than West Side Judaica, and they will wrap and ship via UPS.
Kitchen Arts & Letters, Inc.
1435 Lexington Ave at 93rd, 212-876-5550 Quoting from their brochure: "the country's largest store devoted completely to books on food and wine. With well over 7000 cooking titles and access to thousands of out-of-print titles through our free search service..." From a reader: "While the sale prices at Jessica's Biscuit beat these peoples' full-list prices, this probably is a good place to keep in mind for unusual and hard to find cookery books. Sounds like a fun place to browse, in any case..." Does credit card and phone orders.
The Last Word
118th and Amsterdam, 212-864-0013 They buy and sell used books and have some first editions, collected works, etc. Good place to look for out of print books and inexpensive books on subjects that you would like to know about but don't want to spend money on. Recently renovated and reopened under new management. "Strong to very strong literature/fiction and literary criticism section. Strong in philosophy, religion, and international history. Significant African-American, women, and Judaica studies sections along with poetry and plays. Small, but select, children's books. Okay in foreign language, film/theatre, art, psychology, music, and reference (though they have several good encyclopedia sets). Weak in business & economics, computers, cookbooks, sports, U.S. history, political science, biography, and photography. Almost no genre fiction." Credit cards: AE, MC, V.
Lenox Hill Bookstore
628 W 207, 212-304-2197Spanish-language books.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum Store
5th Ave & 82nd, 212-570-3726 They have neat art books, posters, engagement calendars, videos, etc.
The Military Bookman
29 E 93rd btwn 5th & Madison Aves, 212-348-1280 Specializing in used military books. Their selection is excellent, but they are usually a bit pricey. It's the sort of place that military buffs all know about, but call only as a last resort. They issue a catalog (about 3 times a year), and otherwise engage in mail order. (One poster reports that they contacted him recently about a book he had told them he was looking for at least three years ago, so they keep track of these things.) They just started taking credit card orders, and presumably will now do phone orders.
2486 Broadway btwn 92nd & 93rd, 212-362-8905, email@example.com As you might suspect, it specializes in mysteries and has a very good collection (as did The Mysterious Bookstore). Founded in 1972, they have a framed letter from "Ellery Queen" wishing them well on their opening. The store and the stock are now arranged alphabetically for almost all books (they used to be in subcategories, e.g., "Mysteries with Priests"). The many shelves are labelled at the top "Mystery A-Z." There is a section of True Crime and an alcove with out of prints. A display of new hardback releases and one shelf of Edgar winners rounds out the categories. "If the person I talked to is any sample, the in-store, meet-the-customer people know mysteries."
Paperback Discounter Filmfest Video
580 Amsterdam, 917-441-8881 There are lots of used and otherwise discounted paperbacks, but the collection, which is eclectic and interesting, is--by those very attributes--not very reliable. (They also rent videotapes, and if you look mainly at the signs in the window you'll notice an ad for VCR repair that might distract you from the display of paperbacks in the window.)
Papyrus Books Inc.
2915 Broadway at 114th, 212-222-3350 A fairly large collection of left-wing books and magazines (on film, literature, etc., as well as politics). "Papyrus Books is absolutely great. They specialize in political philosophy, but have a pretty good history section downstairs and carry some computer stuff, too. Most of all, every person who works there seems knowledgeable about books--e.g., no one asks you for an ISBN number instead of a title or author, as is liable to happen at B&N; etc. I've even had the desk-person at Papyrus tell me that if I didn't have the $3.50 right at that moment, I should just drop back in and pay it later." Another says, "I'm not sure if they're worth a special trip, but check them out if you're in the neighborhood."
Paraclete Book Center
146 E 74th btwn Lexington & 3rd Aves, 212-535-4050 A medium-sized religious bookstore, if one's religion coincides with the New Testament.
1 university place, 212-533-2665, also at 70 5th Ave, 212-633-2525, and, 9 Grand Central Terminal Banderbilt and 42nd, 212-533-2665 A very good bookstore with many of Barnard's textbooks, plus a generally strong selection and helpful staff. Surprising Russian-language section in the back. Formerly Barnard Book Forum.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Shop
1071 5th Ave btwn 88th & 89th, 212-423-3500 Modern art.
Teachers College Bookstore
1224 Amsterdam at 120th, 212-678-3992, 212-678-3920 Children's books (first phone number) and classroom materials and teachers' books (second phone number).
Ursus Books Ltd.
981 Madison btwn 76th & 77th, 212-772-8787 New and out-of-print art books and catalogues. "A repository of the truly fine and the outrageously hard-to-find in books on the work of artists (corpus). There are some few brilliant elucidations on approaching the materia with which art is forged. The collection on personae and period has real depth and breadth--evermore an accomplishment for such a select vinyard, but the champagne-like elan everywhere dripping is as rarified in its occurance as it is in its expense." [This apparently means their art books are book art, and their selection is a collection.] (Also has a downtown location.)
West Side Judaica
2412 Broadway btwn 88th & 89th, 212-362-7846 From a quick perusal, a store of substance, but also one with a sense of humor as their seasonal menorah display in the window includes one that has Claymation-like dreidels playing jazz.
Thanks to Evelyn C. Leeper for some of this information.