Sure, we love the speed and convenience of downloading books to a Kindle or an iPad, but there's still no substitute for browsing a great specialty bookshop, chock-full of rare first editions and other hard-to-find surprises. Here are some Manhattan favorites.
1. Drama Book Shop
WHAT Headquarters for Broadway babies: scripts as well as books about theater and theater people. Also, a handful of screenplays for movie mavens.
GREAT FIND "Exceptional Monologues for Men and Women," Volume 1 ($11.95)
WHERE 250 W. 40th St.
INFO 212-944-0595, dramabookshop.com
2. Mysterious Bookshop
WHAT Crime of all kinds. Thrillers. Spy novels. If you have a taste for scary stories, this is the place to find them. Plus rare books and signed first editions.
GREAT FIND 1902 first edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" ($2,500)
WHERE 58 Warren St.
INFO 212-587-1011, mysteriousbookshop.com
3. Kitchen Arts and Letters
WHAT With some 13,000 titles available at the store, there probably isn't a book on food or drink you can't find here. But just in case there is, the shop also runs a search service for out-of-print books.
GREAT FIND "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Howard McGee ($40)
WHERE 1435 Lexington Ave.
INFO 212-876-5550, kitchenartsandletters.com
4. Argosy Books
WHAT One of the most civilized bookstores in the city, Argosy has been in the business for the past 85 years, selling rare books, first editions and out-of-print books. But that's not all. The shop also specializes in autographs, prints and antique maps.
GREAT FIND 1870 first edition of "Edwin Drood" by Charles Dickens ($1,400)
WHERE 116 E. 59th St.
INFO 212-753-4455, argosybooks.com
5. Forbidden Planet
WHAT In among the toys, the action figures and the T-shirts, you'll find a huge collection of comics, graphic novels and science- fiction, horror and fantasy books.
GREAT FIND "Wilson" by Daniel Clowes ($21.95)
WHERE 840 Broadway
INFO 212-473-1576, fpnyc.com
6. Dashwood Books
WHAT Billed as the city's only independent bookstore devoted exclusively to photography, Dashwood opened in 2005 and specializes in photo books from the 1960s to the present, with some vintage publications.
GREAT FIND "For a Language to Come" by Takuma Nakahira ($95)
WHERE 33 Bond St.
INFO 212-387-8520, dashwoodbooks.com