6 Charming Indie Bookstores in New York City

The inside of Assouline bookstore in New York City

Call us old-fashioned, but in the age of e-readers and audiobooks, there’s still something magical about thumbing through the pages of an old-fashioned novel — especially when you stumble upon it in one of NYC’s indie bookstores.

From small shops to grand emporiums packed with emerging writers and classic voices, here are six venues to get lost in the stacks during your stay at the Mondrian in the NoMad neighborhood.


Assouline, Midtown

Assouline Books in New York City

Photo: Harald Gottschalk / CC BY

Known as a classy oasis of analog luxury, guests can sift through oversized coffee table books and glossy pages at this iconic Parisian brand’s urban outposts. With subjects encompassing art, design, fashion, photography, and travel, you’ll discover recent titles on artist Roy Lichtenstein and French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank. You can also uncover unique giftables, from prints to notecards to candles. In addition to their Fifth Avenue location, stop by their new digs at 58 East 58th Street, featuring 400 square feet of warm, inspiring space that’s filled with rare items and designed after a contemporary library.


Strand Book Store, East Village

The Strand bookstore in New York City

Photo: Postdlf via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

No trip to town is complete without entering this bustling, iconic corner sprawl in the East Village. Known for its cavernous “18 miles of books,” you’ll uncover rare and out-of-print titles as well as old maps, cookbooks, experimental art, and photography works. There’s also a curated array of notecards and branded tote bags. Outside, peruse the wooden bins of used hardcover and paperback books (ranging from $2 to $5). 



Argosy, Midtown

The interior of Argosy bookstore in New York City

Photo: Freerradicals via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

In Midtown, a visit to this colossal family-owned bookstore will conjure up the art of the hunt. And you won’t bore easily thanks to thousands of new, used, abstract, and out-of-print titles. Situated in a handsome six-story townhouse (established in the 1920s), you’ll find books on topics ranging from art to history, plus plenty of biographies and poetry. There are also wooden desks, green-shaded lamps, and a plenty of room to idle alongside that unmistakable smell of musty, well-worn pages.



Three Lives, West Village 

Three Lives and Co bookstore in New York City

Photo: Bex Walton via Flickr / CC BY

This charming, hushed Greenwich Village institution, marked by its red brick exterior and matching red French doors, has served as a de facto spot for literature since 1978. You’ll want to take your time perusing the small, well-curated selection of classic and contemporary titles, and check their schedule for upcoming author signings while you’re at it. Uncertain what to read? The in-the-know staff can offer exciting possibilities, from Haruki Murakami to F. Scott Fitzgerald.



192 Books, Chelsea

192 Books in New York City

Photo: 192 Books 

Drop by this narrow, light-filled storefront for the best in literary fiction and non-fiction (from Martin Amis to Joan Didion), plus children’s books and various translated works. They also house an interesting selection of art history works — the shop is owned and curated by an art dealer. Check the rotating calendar for intimate author readings and intriguing discussions (we enjoyed Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth’s talk with The Mars Room author Rachel Kushner).



Mysterious Bookstore, Tribeca

Like its name suggests, this lofty Tribeca locale houses a vast collection of suspense, thriller, and true-crime novels. Arranged on mahogany shelves (complete with rolling ladders), you’ll find a discerning inventory ranging from early pulp novels to British crime (such as Sherlock Holmes). Visitors can also peruse works by modern-day authors like James Ellroy and Carl Hiaasen, along with copies of cheap paperbacks, perfect for airplane reading.



Featured Photo: Harald Gottschalk / CC BY


  • Story by Kate Donnelly

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