In the latest in a new series on bookshops around the world that academics should visit, Richard Armstrong, a recent M.A. graduate from Seton Hall University, shares his favourite bookshops in New York. If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, find more information about contributing below.
The Strand Bookstore in the East Village (828 Broadway) famously claims to stock over eighteen miles of books (around 2.5m) in its three levels. They have used and new books, with the used books always in excellent condition but a bit on the expensive side. They have books on every subject under the sun; it just takes some exploring in the warren-like store. The short and claustrophobic may not like the tall shelves with only a bit of space between them. But you will probably leave with a book you’ve never heard of but can’t wait to read (my most recent discovery was a series on superheroes in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested wasteland). For booklovers, the Strand is a great place to while away an afternoon.
Image Credit: Strand Books, NYC (EJP Photo)
Located in SoHo, the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby Street) is a charity shop specializing in used books. Staffed by volunteers, all their profits go to fighting AIDS and homelessness. The selection isn’t huge, but there are a lot of bargains to be had, with many books available for only $1. As long as you don’t mind an old edition, it’s worth searching the shelves for hidden gems. The bulk of space in the store is taken up with tables where you can get coffee and cakes in a very nice atmosphere. They also have a storefront on Amazon, which appears to list most, if not all, of their stock. If you want to support a good cause and find a bargain, Housing Works is for you.
Also in SoHo, McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street) is a large independent bookshop. Only stocking new books, it is more expensive than the two other entries on this list. But they have a very large selection, especially on art and design books. It’s worth a visit to browse books with titles like Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia (and to hear people ask intriguing questions like “Do you have any books on nail art?”). Downstairs is an extensive, if unexciting, politics and history collection. The cafe has particularly good coffee and snacks, though it is usually hard to find a seat. With a mission statement of “We aspire to be the center of Manhattan’s literary culture” they hold frequent events, including book clubs and author signings. They also have a print-on-demand service on the premises. Among other things, this means you can get personalized copies of public-domain books, as well as some new books.
Richard Armstrong is a recent M.A. graduate from Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations in New Jersey. His research interests include international security, U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. He was previously an Editorial Assistant at World Policy Journal in New York. Read more reviews by Richard.
Do you have a favourite bookshop? If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, then now’s your chance to tell us all about it.
As part of a new weekly feature on LSE Review of Books, we’re asking academics and students to recommend their favourite two or three bookshops in a particular city, with the aim of building an exciting online series for our book-loving community of readers the world over.
Bookshops could be academic, alternative, foreign language, hobby-based, secret or underground institutions, second hand outlets, or connected to a university. We’d like to cover all world regions too.
If something comes to mind, we’re looking for around 100 words per bookshop, detailing why this place is a must-see. Our editorial team can then find suitable photos and links to accompany the piece, though you’re welcome to supply these too. We only ask that you focus on just one city or region, and two or three bookshops within it.
Email us now if you’d like to contribute: firstname.lastname@example.org