First, it was the superstore. Then, it was the Internet and the e-book. But none of those forces killed the hearty independent bookstore, as predicted. Instead, New York has continued to maintain a high level of bookshops; quirky, smart and inviting examples are all over the city. -- TED LOOS. Special to Newsday
A good, broad selection is the main attraction here, but the SoHo store also is known for robust programming, particularly lectures and book clubs. The store's whirring Espresso Book Machine helps writers self-publish (for a fee). The menu of the charming on-site cafe even features literary quotes for each item.
WHERE 152 Prince St.
INFO 212-274-1160, mcnallyjackson.com
A true legend among bookstores, especially for its used wares, The Strand stands out for sheer size and inventory. Founded in 1927, it claims "18 miles of books," which rings true once you've perused the rambling space, usually filled with readers. You can sell your books to the Strand, buy used ones or even pick up an unusual literary find from the Rare Book Room.
WHERE 828 Broadway
INFO 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com
Coming up on its 10th anniversary, 192 Books has a thoughtfully edited selection, as it necessarily must, given its tiny space. It's a pleasant place to browse, or to peer inside from the huge windows fronting 10th Avenue. Come for art books, literary fiction and children's books.
WHERE192 10th Ave.
INFO 212-255-4022 192books.com
HOUSING WORKS BOOKSTORE CAFE
Everything in the SoHo store is donated, since the celebrated nonprofit focuses on improving the lives of people with HIV and AIDS. That means the books are all over the map -- from brilliant finds to just random reads. But you can feel good about shopping there, and the warm, wood-trimmed space is so deluxe-looking that it's often rented out for private events, too.
WHERE 126 Crosby St.
INFO 212-334-3324, housingworks.org/bookstore
ARGOSY BOOK STORE
For the average book lover, this might be more of a museum than a shop, given the rare items and high prices. But why not go and gawk at the amazing first editions, musty historic volumes and beautiful old maps there? Argosy is a third-generation family business founded in 1925, and it's especially good if you're splurging on a gift.
WHERE 116 E. 59th St.
INFO 212-753-4455, argosybooks.com
KITCHEN ARTS & LETTERS
This small and friendly Upper East Side outpost may be the world's best place to buy literature about food and drink. Cookbooks are a staple, of course, but the store covers farming and food policy, wine, restaurants and health issues, too. Employees will aggressively search for an out-of-print book on request.
WHERE 1435 Lexington Ave.
INFO 212-876-5550, kitchenartsandletters.com