In the age of technology, some may think the only way to buy books is through Amazon. Sure, it’s easy and convenient, but sometimes it’s best to go into an actual bookstore, hold a book in your hands, and buy the title you’ve been wanting for a while. Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than discovering a new book by browsing through a bookstore and spotting a well-designed cover.
This week, we would like to add to our list of New York City bookstores by highlighting some great independents. (Some of these stores even offer online shopping!)
Books Are Magic
Books Are Magic is owned by bestselling author Emma Straub and designer Michael Fusco in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Emma and Michael are married with two sons, and they consider their bookstore to be “their third child.” Straub recently said that as a bookstore owner, “she feels like a ‘matchmaker,’ especially when she’s ordering” books for customers.
Books Are Magic is a great bookstore to visit if you are looking for good conversation and book recommendations. In addition to buying books directly from the store, you can also order books and other merchandise online.
Fun Fact: Book are Magic hosts events like book groups and book releases to support authors.
Located in Lower Manhattan, McNally Jackson Books is a two-story independent bookstore dedicated to being “the center of Manhattan’s literary culture.” It achieves this aspiration by hosting daily literary events and serving coffee in its local café. Also, McNally Jackson now sells books and merchandise online.
Fun fact: McNally Jackson helps authors self-publish books.
Book Court was established in 1981 by Mary Gannett and Henry Zook. Located in Brooklyn, Book Court has “a huge selection of paperback fiction titles, one of the largest children’s sections in Brooklyn, a sophisticated poetry and drama section (something that’s hard for a lot of indie’s to do), and a great variety of non-fiction.”
More than just a store, Book Court has its own website that provides helpful literary links and book lists. Part of its website is a blog for kids wanting to talk about books without leaving the comfort of their home. It also has book clubs for adults to discuss books and converse with fellow readers.
Fun fact: If it could, Book Court would employ an in-house writer to sell and talk about books with customers.
Book Culture was founded in 1987 by current owner Chris Doeblin and now has many locations scattered around Manhattan. Its main mission is “to make sure that [New York City’s] rich history and reputation for being home to writers, publishing houses, editors, and bookstores remains intact.” Book Culture sells everything from adult fiction and children’s literature to academic publications for professors and students.
Ben Bass was 25 years old when he started The Strand in 1927. He “sought to create a place where books would be loved, and book lovers could congregate.” To date, The Strand carries over 2.5 million new, used, and rare books, along with merchandise and gifts like coffee mugs.
You can buy books online through The Strand’s website, which also provides Staff Picks (book lists recommended by The Strands’ current staff).
Fun Fact: You can sell your used books to The Strand if you don’t plan on reading them again.