New Yorker Writers’ and Editors’ Favorite Bookstores in New York City

Printed Matter

Chelsea

Thrilling, overwhelming, chaotic: even if I spend an hour in Printed Matter, I often feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. It took me a couple of years to realize there was a second floor at their main location in Chelsea. A survivor from a different era of New York, the shop (there are two locations, but make the effort to go to the one in Chelsea) specializes in self-published zines, artists’ books, quirky periodicals, anything involving text on paper. Whether you come across the sole copy of some kid’s photocopied poems or the much-hyped début monograph of an up-and-coming painter, a zine about Jamaican dancehall culture or one about Hong Kong skaters, a book of appropriated anime art or one about communing with the mountains, there’s truly something for everyone, and at price points that range from “just curious” to collector-aficionado. Their mission remains the same as when they started in the mid-seventies: to kindle faith in creative expression, the weirder the better. —Hua Hsu


Desert Island

Williamsburg

At the intersection of the L and the G train lines (I’ve lived on the G for the past fourteen years and lived on the L before that) is Desert Island, a bookshop that is so beautifully designed that it doubles as a work of art. The Williamsburg storefront, once Sparacino’s Bakery, has purveyed comics, graphic novels, artists’ books, prints, and zines on consignment since 2008. There are so many analog treasures stuffed into this place; there is so much loving curation. It begs you to take your time. Linger in front of the latest window installation. Browse the racks of mini-comics. (A recent find: “Suitable for Framing: The Cartoons of Andy Boyd, Volume 1.”) Pick up “Smoke Signal,” the free full-color broadside published by the shop’s owner, Gabe Fowler, showcasing one artist per issue. Dance to whatever record is spinning. I adore Desert Island—its lightness and imagination, its glorious delight in drawings and words. —E. Tammy Kim


Barnes & Noble

Upper West Side

There are all kinds of interesting and welcoming small and smallish bookstores in my neighborhood—from Book Culture on West 112th to the Strand’s uptown outpost and much in between—but I have to give props to, yes, Barnes & Noble on Broadway and Eighty-second: their size, which doesn’t come cheap, insures that they have plenty to offer; they are kind to everyone, kids especially; and the new redesign is elegant and welcoming. —David Remnick


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