The 5 best bookstores in New York City, ranked

The Strand. | Photo: Jingqiao C./Yelp

There's nothing quite like browsing the shelves at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, flipping through titles and choosing one or a few to peruse more thoroughly over a warm mug of coffee, tea or cocoa.

New York City has so many great independent bookstores that it was hard to narrow it down to five, but Hoodline crunched the numbers to find them, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of the best places to browse for books, whether used or new.

1. Strand Bookstore

Photo: Strand Bookstore/Yelp

Topping the list is New York fixture the Strand Bookstore. Located at 828 Broadway (between 12th and 13th streets) in the East Village, it's a used and new book emporium that the New York Times has called "the undisputed king of the city's independent bookstores," boasting 4.5 stars out of 1,382 reviews on Yelp.

With three and a half floors of books, plus a second location in the Flatiron District and two kiosks in Times Square and Central Park, the Strand earns its motto "18 Miles of Books." Beloved for its great selection, reasonable prices and long history in the city, it often hosts author signings and other events.

2. Kinokuniya

Photo: Priscilla C./Yelp

Next up is Midtown West's New York outpost of the massive Japanese chain Kinokuniya, situated at 1073 Sixth Ave. (between West 40th and West 41st streets). The bookstore chain is the largest in Japan, and has capitalized on the worldwide juggernaut of Japanese pop culture by stocking more manga at its overseas branches in recent years.

With 4.5 stars out of 572 reviews on Yelp, it has proven to be a local favorite for its three floors of books and translated manga, large numbers of Japanese-language titles in the basement, Cafe Zaiya on the second floor, and Japanese-style stationery, magazines, toys and other pop cultural artifacts.

3. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Photo: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe/Yelp

SoHo's Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, located at 126 Crosby St. (between Prince and Jersey streets), is another top choice. Yelpers give the used bookstore arm of long-running AIDS and homelessness nonprofit Housing Works 4.5 stars out of 538 reviews.

All profits go back to the charity, which provides housing and care for thousands of homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

Many reviewers praise the store's open, airy two-story layout: the picturesque space doubles as an event venue for talks, readings and even weddings. The attached cafe has plenty of space for patrons to read or work while they have a snack or a drink.

4. McNally Jackson

Photo: Min T./Yelp

McNally Jackson, another much-loved SoHo go-to, also has a cafe to go with its well-curated selection of new books on two floors -- though no free Wi-Fi. Head over to 52 Prince St. (between Mulberry and Lafayette streets) to see for yourself why it's earned 4.5 stars out of 412 Yelp reviews.

5. Bluestockings

Photo: Bluestockings/Yelp

Last but not least, check out feminist and counterculture bookstore Bluestockings, which has earned 4.5 stars out of 157 reviews on Yelp. In addition to a large selection of feminist and other activism-related titles, it hosts regular community events.

You can find the volunteer-run bookstore and cafe, which also offers zines, clothing and more, at 172 Allen St. over in the Lower East Side.
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