Friday, November 02, 2007

NYC Bookstores

Here's my list of the top ten bookstores in New York City for books on architecture and urbanism. The list includes a web page link (if available), address (all shops in Manhattan, unless noted otherwise), description, and one or more "finds" made at each. I'll admit my tastes veer to the used and the cozy, two qualities that bookstores definitely shouldn't be afraid of.

At bottom is a list of all the independent, non-antiquarian, non-collegiate bookstores in NYC that I know of (though I've yet to visit them all...yet), as I assume no one needs help in finding or learning about chain bookstores. I hope this list is helpful for those living in and/or visiting the city. I'll try to update it as needed, and please comment or e-mail if you notice omissions or errors.

THE TOP TEN:
(updated 2014.03.03)
1. McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry)
This two-story space with cafe in Soho/Nolita has a selection of architecture books that has gotten bigger and better, carrying titles by publishers not found in other bookstores. Likewise for its selection of periodicals on architecture. Note: McNally Jackson is the name for Canadian bookseller McNally Robinson's New York store.
Finds: Translation from Drawing to Building by Robin Evans

2. Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway (at 12th Street)
No surprise here, as it would be difficult for the store with a self-proclaimed 8 miles of books not to have a good selection of architecture books. They also have a very good selection of books on urbanism.
Finds: A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time; The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War; Good City Form; Shelter; File Under Architecture

3. MoMA Design and Book Store, Midtown: 11 West 53rd Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Soho: 81 Spring Street (at Crosby Street)
It would be surprising if MoMA didn't have a quality choice of books on architecture; unfortunately the best selection isn't at Spring Street or the 53rd Street storefront, but on the second floor mezzanine inside the museum, where a $20 fee gains you admission.
Finds: AMP Arquitectos

4. Rizzoli Bookstore, 31 West 57th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
A beautiful, three-story townhouse in Midtown is home to the well-known publisher's bookshop that carries titles by numerous publishers, not just Rizzoli. Go to the second floor for architecture book and the third floor for sale books.
Finds: Talking Cities

5. Kinokuniya Bookstore, 1073 Sixth Avenue (between 40th and 41st Streets)
The Japanese bookstore's new location across from Bryant Park is a three-story space with a large selection of Japanese and English-language books, magazines, as well as Japanese tchotchkies and a cafe. The architecture selection is solid with hard to find titles from Japan alongside domestic and European releases.
Finds: Casa Brutus

6. The Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place (at First Place)
This small gift shop features merchandise related to the museum, but also a good selection of architecture books ranging "from the theoretical to the aesthetic, of interest to everyone from the novice to the connoisseur." Admission to the museum is not necessary for a visit to the gift shop.

7. P.S. Bookshop, 76 Front Street, Brooklyn (at Washington Street)
The airy loft space in Dumbo is but one reason to check out this newish bookstore. Of course the other is a really good selection of used books on architecture, similar in breadth to Spoonbill and Sugartown. Note: The store was in the midst of moving to this new address the last time I was in the area.
Finds: Terminal Architecture by Martin Pawley

8. Book Culture, 536 West 112th St. (1/2 block east of Broadway)
Located close to Columbia University, this two-story store naturally caters to academia (meaning the best time NOT to go is the start of terms when the store is turned upside down to cater to students and professors), though it carries a really good selection of new titles on architecture and urbanism, with many remainders at low prices and the occasional used gem.
Finds: GAM Issue 01, Production of Space, Fabrications
*NOTE: Book Culture is the new name of Labyrinth Books.

9. Spoonbill and Sugartown, Booksellers, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn (at 5th Street)
While the used books in this Williamsburg shop can be a bit overprice, especially the illustrated books, the selection can be really good. Perhaps this level of quality stems from the people that frequent the shop and bring in books, but some of it can be attributed to the book buyers; I brought in some books to sell once (some decent books, from what I recall), but they turned them all down.
Finds: Design with Nature (first edition hardcover) by Ian McHarg

10. Mercer Street Books, 206 Mercer Street (between Bleecker and Houston)
While the architecture section of this Greenwich Village used bookstore has steadily dwindled the last year or so, some top-notch titles can still be found, perhaps stemming from the architects that live or work in the area. For me, a trip to this store also means a visit to the nearby Housing Works Bookstore, a great place to browse and have a cup of coffee.
Finds: Wrapper: 40 Possible City Surfaces for the Museum of Jurassic Technology

Tied for 11 (while these don't have "top-ten"-worthy architecture selections, they excel as places to "make finds" in other subjects or just hang out):

» East Village Books, 101 St. Mark's Place (at Avenue A)
» Housing Works Bookstore, 126 Crosby Street (1/2 block south of Houston)
» Left Bank Books, 17 8th Avenue (between Jane and West 12th Streets)
» Powerhouse Books, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn (at Water Street)
» St. Mark's Bookshop, 31 Third Avenue (at 9th Street)
» Westsider Rare and Used Books, 2246 Broadway (between 80th and 81st Streets)
THE FULL LIST:
(updated 2014.03.03)

» 12th Street Books, 179 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn (between Court and Clinton Streets)
» 192 Books, 192 Tenth Avenue (at 21st Street)
7th Avenue Books, 202 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn (between 2nd and 3rd Streets)
» Airstream Books, 546 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn (between Lorimar and Union Avenues)
» Alabaster Books, 122 4th Avenue (between 12th and 13th Streets)
» Archivia Books, 993 Lexington Avenue (between 71st and 72nd Streets) CLOSED
» Argosy Book Store, 116 East 59th Street (Between Park Avenue and Lexington)
» Assouline Store, 768 Fifth Avenue (at 58th Street, in the Plaza Hotel)
» Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, Queens
» Biography Bookshop, 400 Bleecker Street (at 11th Street) MOVED / RENAMED (see bookbook)
» Bluestockings Books, 172 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivington)
» Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, 163 West 10th Street (between 7th Avenue and Waverly Place)
» Bookberries, 983 Lexington Avenue (at 71st Street)
» bookbook, 266 Bleecker Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
» The Book Cellar, 1465 York Avenue (at 78th Street)
» Book Court, 163 Court Street, Brooklyn (between Pacific and Dean Streets)
» Book Culture, 536 West 112th St. (1/2 block east of Broadway)
» Bookmarc, 400 Bleecker Street (at West 11th Street)
» Book-Off, 49 West 45th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
» Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
» clic Bookstore and Gallery, 189 Lafayette Street (between Gramd and Broome Streets)
» Community Bookstore, 143 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn (between Carroll Street and Garfield Place)
» The Community Bookstore, 212 Court Street, Brooklyn (at Warren Street)
» The Corner Bookstore, 1313 Madison Avenue (between 92nd and 93rd Streets)
» Crawford Doyle Booksellers, 1082 Madison Avenue (between 81st and 82nd Streets)
» Dashwood Books, 33 Bond Street (between Lafayette and Bowery Streets)
» Dexter Sinister, 38 Ludlow Street (between Hester and Grand Streets)
» East Village Books, 101 St. Mark's Place (at Avenue A)
» Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (at South Portland)
» Heights Books, 109 Montague Street, Brooklyn (Between Henry and Hicks Streets)
» Housing Works Bookstore, 126 Crosby Street (1/2 block south of Houston)
» Idlewild Books, 12 West 19th Street (near 5th Avenue)
» Kinokuniya Bookstore, 1073 Sixth Avenue (between 40th and 41st Streets)
» Kitchen Arts and Letters, 1435 Lexington Avenue (between 93rd and 94th Streets)
» Left Bank Books, 304 West 4th Street (between Bank and 12th Streets)
» Material Connexion, 1271 Avenue of the Americas (between 50th and 51st Streets)
» Mercer Street Books, 206 Mercer Street (between Bleecker and Houston)
» McNally Jackson Booksn, 52 Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry)
» MoMA Design and Book Store, Midtown: 11 West 53rd Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Soho: 81 Spring Street (at Crosby Street)
» Morningside Bookshop, 2915 Broadway (at 114th Street)
» OHWOW Book Club, 227 Waverly Place (between Perry and 11th Streets)
» Park Slope Books, 200 7th Avenue, Brooklyn (between 2nd and 3rd Streets)
» Phaidon Store, 83 Wooster Street (between Spring and Prince Streets) CLOSED
» Posman Books, 9 Grand Central Terminal (Vanderbilt and 42nd Street)
» Potterton Books, 979 Third Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets)
» Powerhouse Books, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn (at Water Street)
» Pranga Bookstore, 354 Court Street, Brooklyn (at Union Street)
» Printed Matter, 195 10th Avenue (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
» P.S. Bookshop, 76 Front Street, Brooklyn (at Washington Street).
» Rapture Café and Books, 200 Avenue A (between 12th and 13th Streets)
» The Read Café Bakery and Bookshop, 158 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn (between 8th and 9th Streets)
» Revolution Books, 9 West 19th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
» Rizzoli Bookstore, 31 West 57th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
» Rob Warren Book Gallery, 51 West 28th Street (between Broadway and 6th Avenues)
» St. Mark's Bookshop, 31 Third Avenue (at 9th Street)
» Shakespeare and Co. Booksellers, Downtown location: 716 Broadway (at Washington Place)
» Skyline Books, 13 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) MOVED / RENAMED (see Rob Warren Book Gallery)
» The Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Place (at First Place)
» Spoonbill and Sugartown, Booksellers, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn (at 5th Street)
» Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway (at 12th Street)
» Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ
» Taschen Store, 107 Greene Street (between Prince and Spring Streets)
» Three Lives and Company, 154 West 10th Street (at Waverly Place)
» Traveler's Choice Bookstore, 2 Wooster Street (between Canal and Grand Streets)
» Unnameable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn (at St. Marks)
» Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, 34 Carmine Street (between Bedford and Bleecker Streets)
» Urban Center Books, new location TBD, reopening Fall 2010 CLOSED
» Ursus Books and Prints, 981 Madison Avenue (at 76th Street)
» Van Alen Books, 30 West 22nd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues CLOSED
» Vox Pop, 1022 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn (at Stratford Avenue)
» Westsider Rare and Used Books, 2246 Broadway (between 80th and 81st Streets)
» Word Books, 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn (at Milton Street)

10 comments:

  1. And another one bites the dust... #10 Park Slope Books is slated to close later this year.

    I liked the list but I was disappointed that Court Street's Community Bookstore didn't make the list... I'm convinced that it contains every book you may desire. You just have to dig through every random, nicotine stained pile to find it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Park Slope's closing? I noticed 7th Avenue books next door is closing soon (if not already, and changing owners, if lucky) though I didn't know about Park Slope closing.

    I've been to Community Bookstore once and can't say I found much while wading through the piles of old books. The architecture section was definitely slim and on the "home and garden" end of things, though the social science area did have some stand-outs, as I recall. It reminded me of a place in Chicago that seemed ready to cave in on itself. Good thing books aren't part of a code inspection...or are they?...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Labyrinth Books is now Book Culture and is between Broadway and Amsterdam, not west of Broadway but east of Broadway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are two different places. One is on the West Side of Broadway at 114th. The one (two stories high) is on 112th between Broadway and Amstersdam.

      Delete
    2. The one on Broadway was added later, something I didn't put yet in the list. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll add it soon.

      Delete
  4. You missed The New Museum Store. They have a great selection and the design of the Museum itself is a beaut.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this list. I have made some great finds because of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey there, I have a bunch of new and very good Architecture books.
    Any recommendations as to which store gives the best bang for your buck when it comes to selling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only stores I have experience with for reselling are Strand Bookstore, Book Culture, and Spoonbill and Sugartown. I would not recommend Spoonbill and Sugartown (they were snobby and didn't take any of the books I brought them, ones that I thought were a good fit for the store...otherwise I wouldn't have lugged them there); Book Culture is good for trades (they give more in trades than cash); Strand only deals in cash, and their prices were close to the ones I had in my head before bringing them to the counter.

      Ones I haven't dealt with that would be worth looking into are P.S. Bookshop (like Spoonbill and Sugartown their prices are high, so they might give a good bang for the buck), Mercer Street Books (when I'm there and they're dealing with customers bringing in books, they seem to be at least reasonable), Alabaster Bookshop (small bookstore near the Strand that has a decent architecture selection), and Argosy (they deal with fine and rare books and with large libraries).

      In general it seems like bookstores pay 25% of the cover price for a book, unless it's worth more for some reason (out of print, signed, rare).

      Delete
  7. Thanks for sharing this list. It is very to me usefull since I´m going to NY in Spring. I´m an architect who teaches and practices in Santa Fe, Argentina.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated for spam.