6 Must-Visit Bookstores in Downtown New York
Booklovers unite—we’ve rounded up our top picks of downtown bookstores.
Print is alive and well in New York City. Whether you’re after a rare coffee table book from yesteryear or a fresh-off-the-press, best-selling novel, the below roundup of downtown bookstores has your every need covered—and that even includes your daily caffeine hit.
A true East Village treasure trove of finds, Mast specializes in rare volumes, iconic paperbacks, and pre-loved books on a variety of topics including fashion, art, design, history, cinema, and philosophy. Mast opened its doors in 2009 thanks to the efforts of husband and wife team Brian Leitgeb and James McKee. Since then, Mast has continued to deliver quality reading material to downtown New Yorkers. We recommend keeping an eye on the store’s Instagram for notifications about book launches, signings, and author talks.
Since 1927, The Strand Book Store has become a hallmark of New York’s East Village. One of the store’s managers, Darren Sutherland likes to muse on the store’s prime locations. “Being located downtown in the Village not only gives us a lot of foot traffic and has helped make a name for ourselves, but it allows us to attract millions of interesting buyers and sellers of truly remarkable books.” Yet among the many shoppers who frequent the store, few rarely venture to its quiet third floor, where The Strand’s rare books collection resides. It’s one not to miss.
A perennial favorite of bookish downtowners, McNally Jackson bears home to one of the most expertly curated collections of books in the city. Whether you need an out-of-print coffee table book or a certain cover version of a David Foster Wallace tome, you’ll find what you’re looking for at McNally thanks to their extremely knowledgeable staff. But even if you don’t, there’s still a fantastic cafe that plays the perfect host for all those in need of a good cup of coffee and a long read.
This offshoot of the Marc Jacobs empire is one of our favorite literary destinations in New York. Its real specialty lies in the vast array of beautiful art tomes, housed on floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves. Whilst the store may appear small from the street, a well-curated and interesting selection of 20th-century finds awaits. The cleverly titled Bookmarc also stocks international fashion and design magazines, making this a one-stop-shop for those in the know. Part local hangout, part shopping destination, you will also find fun Marc Jacobs branded merchandise, the perfect take-home present for friends and family.
Curated by the team behind famed neighborhood bookstore McNally Jackson, Goods for the Study is a stationary-slash-bookstore store catering to both classic bookworms and modern readers alike. The store’s inspiration came from McNally Jackson founder Sarah McNally, after developing an impressive collection of knickknacks from her international travels. Today, the store is a mecca for those seeking some writing materials and unique one-of-a-kind pieces for the office. Just a stone’s throw away from the original store, Goods for the Study is the perfect place to pick up a last-minute gift with some flare, with hundreds of customizable pieces from leather journals to iPad covers, quirky greetings cards and more. You’ll definitely want to allow an hour or so to get lost among the shelves—you’ll be amazed at what you find.
For more than four decades, Printed Matter has championed artists from New York and beyond. Founded in 1976 by a group of individuals working in the arts, including artist Sol LeWitt and art critic Lucy R. Lippard, the nonprofit bookstore was established in response to the growing interest in publications created by artists. With more and more artists incorporating the book format into their creative practice, the Printed Matter team began to distribute and promote artists’ books and related publications and has continued to do some from their 11th Avenue store, which operates as bookstore, gallery, and artist organization. Beyond that, Printed Matter is a hub for the creative set to gather and appreciate the medium.