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NYC Bookstores

Here's my list of the Top 10 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, non-specialized (cookbooks, children's books, travel, etc.) 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.

Created 2007.11.02
Updated 2018.02.14: added Book Culture LIC.

  1. McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry): This two-story space with cafe in Soho/Nolita has an excellent 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. I'm looking forward to their expansion into Williamsburg, set for fall 2015. (Find: 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 great selection of architecture books, not to mention good selections of books on landscape architecture and urbanism. Most helpful is their website search, which allows new and used books alike to be researched before wading through the many shelves of architecture books. (Finds: Good City Form by Kevin Lynch, File Under Architecture by Herbert Muschamp)
  3. Rizzoli, 1133 Broadway (at 26th Street): The new location for Rizzoli, which was booted out of its old 57th Street townhouse, is just grand and ornate enough to make one forget its previous lodgings. Architecture and other design books are in the back, where talks also take place. The selection, though all new, is deep, with titles here that I haven't seen at other stores in the city.
  4. 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. (Find: Casa Brutus)
  5. 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, which removed many of its bookshelves ca. 2015, or the 53rd Street storefront, but on the second floor mezzanine inside the museum, where a $25 fee gains you admission (free admission is on Fridays after 4pm). (Find: AMP Arquitectos monograph)
  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. (Find: a civil engineering guide to NYC)
  7. Spoonbill and Sugartown, Booksellers, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn (at 5th Street): While the used books in this Williamsburg shop can be a bit overpriced, especially when it comes to 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. (Find: Design with Nature, 1st edition, by Ian McHarg)
  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. In 2017, Book Culture LIC opened, but its architecture section is close to non-existent. (Find: Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre)
  9. Mast Books, 66 Avenue A (between 4th and 5th Streets): This small store has a tiny selection of books on architecture and design (they have a larger selection of art books), but what they have is very well curated, especially for a used bookstore. Books lean toward academic titles, though coffee table books are also in abundance. (Find: Alvar Aalto: A Critical Study by Malcolm Quantrill, Alvar Aalto by Karl Fleig)
  10. East Village Books, 101 St. Mark's Place (at Avenue A): This used bookstore obviously located in the East Village is a great spot for academic titles, probably due to the proximity of The Cooper Union, NYU and The New School. They don't have a lot of architecture titles, but what they have had on previous visits was pretty solid. I've yet to buy any architecture books here though, since their prices for illustrated books are pretty high.
Tied for 11 (while these don't have "top-10"-worthy architecture selections, they excel as places to make "finds" in other subjects or just hang out):

THE FULL LIST (NEW: # in parentheses is approximate linear feet of books devoted to architecture and urbanism, a work in progress. Also I've added a designation for what each store sells: NEW, USED, RARE, etc.):


  1. Just a couple of notes--

    Rizzoli--Too much store, not enough book. 180 degree difference from the od 57th St. and Fifth Ave. locations.

    Strand--Visit fast, while it is still here. NYC book section on main floor replaced by wall of fun socks. Now that Fred is dead, no obligations. Site is too valuable for a bookstore, too valuable even for fun socks. When she figures out what to do with the inventory--franchise, smaller new location, fire sale--it will be gone forever. And it could happen almost immediately.

    1. Rizzoli: Agreed.

      Strand: Nope, at least not with that example. New York section moved and is now bigger; I picked up a couple titles from that section today. The socks, though, are not a good sign; I'll give you that.

    2. Strand--The Fun Sock Wall™ is a hallowed location, being where Fred sat for decades buying books, before she pushed him into the back. It deserves better. The NYC section feels smaller, and is now closer to being under the stairs, where all the books will eventually be. Really, I'm sweating-- I depend on Strand for inventory and personal reading. I'm sure the "Last Days!!!!" banners are being printed right now in a secret warehouse...

    3. I wasn't familiar with the history of the sock wall location. I only sold books in the back, often to Fred.

      To me the new NY section feels bigger -- not by a large margin but noticeably. I recall they had spillover on carts, but now they can shelve those and more.

      And while I don't think the Strand is too big to fail, I'm not yet ready to entertain any closing-soon thoughts.


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