new york city bookstore

7 Best Independent Bookstores in NYC to Visit or Order From

New York City is a place buzzing with stories. Some of the best authors of all time, we’re talkin’ Walt Whitman and Henry James hail from the Big Apple. So it should come as no surprise that New York is also chockfull of great independent bookstores. Whether you’re looking to safely brose in person, pick up in-store or order online here are seven fo the best independent bookstores in NYC.

Here are the Seven Best Independent Bookstores in New York City


This chandelier studded book heaven is known as one of the best independent book stores in the country. Located in an old townhouse in the heart of Manhattan, it has a cosy vintage feel. Inside you’ll find that they specialize in everything from classic novels, illustrated tomes and European magazines. They even have a bar so you can sip martinis while you browse. Currently, they offer curbside pickup or home delivery due to the pandemic.

new york city bookstore

The Lit. Bar

independent bookstore nyc
image: Sophia Browne/Facebook

Tucked away in the Bronx, this bookstore slash wine bar is the place to be. The Lit Bar was opened in spring of 2019 by Noëlle Santos who had a dream of operating a place that would bring people together through a love of literature. She prioritizes books written by people of colour and aims to make the world of reading and literature more diverse. It’s also currently the only bookstore in the whole of Bronx, so stop by, have a few sips and stay awhile. Alternatively, they offer an online shop for your livingroom browses.


Word Up

This incredible bookstore is located in Washington Heights and is all about community. Word Up is completely volunteer-run and provides its guests with new and used books and a variety of languages that are affordable and for a good cause. Their goal is to ignite a love for reading among youth in Washington Heights and they’ve done just that. Here you’ll find that they also place a huge influence on language learning with regular workshops and multilingual community-building exercises. Check out their store here. 

nyc book shop

Center for Fiction

This nonprofit bookstore is dedicated solely to the celebration of fictional works. Smack dab in the centre of Brooklyn, there’s always something going on from storytelling events with David Duchovny to dramatic performances from the likes of Reggie D. White. Whether you’re looking to join a workshop, up your fiction knowledge or just do some shopping, Center for Fiction has you covered. You can see their online store here for #stayathome shopping. Alternatively, you can place orders for curbside pickup.
bookstore new york city

Books are Magic

Books are Magic is an independent bookstore also located in Brooklyn. This quaint and cosy bookstore is an NYC gem that fulfils all your bookworm needs. From children’s books to independent authors to poetry journals, they’ve got it all. Books are Magic is also promising to match any donation up to $10,000 to select donations to fight racial injustice. Currently, they are offering pickups every day from 10-6.
independent bookstore nyc

Argosy Bookstore

This Manhattan establishment has been around for nearly a century and is one of the best bookshops in the whole of The Big Apple. Argosy first opened their doors in 1925, making it the oldest surviving independent bookstore in NYC. It packs a big literary punch, too. Here you’ll find six whole floors of print volumes, antiquated, first edition and rare books. Need we say more?
Check out their online shop to browse from home. They also occasionally host popup shops outside with art books at just three bucks a pop.

nyc bookstore

The Mysterious Bookshop

The Mysterious Bookshop is just what it sounds like. This Manhattan institution is ready to service all of your “whodunnit” and espionage needs. You’ll find the bookshop s loaded with all the best murder and mayhem finds from recent NYT Best Sellers to classics like The Great Hotel Murder. Either way, you’re bound to find something you like. Browse their online selection here.

Melanie Hamilton

Melanie is an avid traveller with a passion for history and global foods. She is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia where most of her time is occupied with qvevri wine and Soviet history. Having do-si-do'd her way across Europe and Latin America, she's enjoyed some of the world's most exciting places firsthand and can't wait to tell you about them.

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