Think Small: 6 Best Independent Bookstores (Not Named Barnes & Noble) in NYC

Subscribe to spoiled NYC's official newsletter, The Stoop, for the best news, eats, drinks, places to go, and things to do.

Why does New York City rock? Well, many reasons, but if you ask a lot of people, they’ll say because it’s a place where independent businesses have the chance to thrive.

We're not saying we have anything against Barnes and Noble, because that national chain of a bookstore is pretty great.

But it’s also pretty awesome to have the opportunity to shop at a bookstore that’s not Barnes and Noble, and living in NYC offers us that rare opportunity.

Why is it great to shop at independent bookstores in NYC?

Well, in many cases, such bookstores will have a monthly reading series, where you may get to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the author of a book you love, a book that broke your world open, or a book that made you sob on the couch for an hour.

For another, there are amazing atmospheres that imbue book-obsessive people like yourself with so much booklust it’s hard to handle.

That being said, here are the 6 best independent bookstores in New York City.

1. Housing Works (126 Crosby Street)

tornadoally ❤️ this bookstore #housingworksbookstore #nyc #soho #housingworks

Can we even get started on how gorgeous it is inside this bookstore?

First of all, they have a bar lining the back wall. Dope, right? We know.

Second, the entire store’s walls are packed in with books, all the way up to their high vaulted ceiling. They have a second story against the walls of books so you can browse the books on the second floor.

Being inside Housing Works is nothing short of majestic, and the middle of the store is packed with lots of tables, rendering this bookstore probably the best in Manhattan to spend a day reading or doing work amidst the tales and immortalities of writers from this century and many centuries past.

2. McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street)

henriquevenske #McNallyJacksonBooks

Sick of our overly enthusiastic exclamations about how beautiful it is at Housing Works? Then you should’ve stopped reading, because damn, is it beautiful inside McNally Jackson.

They have a bunch of stabbed books lining the ceiling, and a bunch of book pages printed to the wallpaper in their café.

Yup, they have a café, so you can buy the newest Leslie Jamison book, grab yourself a cup of coffee, and nestle in with the most attractive person in the bookstore at their table. And yes, it’s totally cool to sit at a table with someone else. Don’t be too shy to ask.

Also, this is the bookstore to go to if you’re looking to read the fiction of a particular country, as McNally Jackson’s books are organized by geographic location. It’s also the spot to hit if you’re looking to buy a literary magazine, because they sell the most varied collection of literary magazines I’ve seen.

Finally, it’s like a two minute walk from Housing Works, so you can have a whole day of book perusing if you like.

3. Community Bookstore (143 7th Avenue - Brooklyn)

inst_efano Definitely I deserve a book ;) #communitybookstore #bookstore #Brooklyn #respiro #relaxing #riflessioni #onemoretime #photofday #picoftheday #amo #neverlate #friends #followme #greatime #homesweethome #life #live #newyorkcity #newyork #norush #nyc #me #mood #mylife

The charm of Brooklyn, Community Bookstore is nestled in the hustle and bustle of Park Slope.

Known mostly for their lovely reading series, their stacks of eclectic and lively prose and poetry, the cat who continuously roams the store, posing for pets, and their gorgeous outdoor garden, Community Bookstore pretty much rocks.

There’s a few arm chairs of seating space here, which is nice but a few more arm chairs would be a bit more ideal. That said, Community Bookstore is not the rushed get in, grab your book, get out atmosphere.

It’s relaxed. The people who work there are chill and they’re more than down to talk about what you should purchase. And, hit up their reading series, we mean it. There’s usually free wine.