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Best Genre-Specific Bookstores

Browsing heavens for the design lover, the paperback compulsive, and the stroller-pusher in search of relief.


Freebird Books & Goods
123 Columbia St., nr. Kane St., Red Hook 718-643-8484

What You’ll Find
All the tattered classics and weird old manuals that drew you to your favorite college-town bookstore plus some ’zines and journals you’ve never heard of; a friendly, cluttered, tin-ceilinged atmosphere; plush couches and a garden café.

What You Won’t
Hipster authors stopping by to flog their latest in between Barnes & Noble gigs; room for strollers; bustling crowds (Columbia Street is a work-in-progress).

Area Amenities
Burgers at the bizarrely racing-themed Pitstop; restored mid-century cast-off furniture at General Nightmare, down the road.

208 Smith St., nr. Baltic St., Cobble Hill 718-797-1348

What You’ll Find
A well-curated mix of old school (Marvel and DC) and new (graphic novels); drawing exhibits in the front; frequent author appearances; a spacious “New Brooklyn” design.

What You Won’t
X-Men figurines; superrare first editions encased in glass; kids (unless closely monitored); condescending staff.

Area Amenities
Numerous lively restaurants like Trout, Pacifico, and Sample as well as less-traveled bars like Floyd, NY, Last Exit, and Smith Street’s Boat, with its excellent jukebox.

Urban Center Books
457 Madison Ave., nr. 51st St. 212-935-3595

What You’ll Find
A tiny, high-ceilinged space packed with indispensable texts for design nuts from the classics (Jane Jacobs, of course) to the current issue (No. 10) of Future magazine.

What You Won’t
Novels; scented candles; Harry Potter.

Area Amenities
Excellent (and free) exhibit literally next door at the Municipal Arts Society.

Barnes & Noble
97 Warren St., at Greenwich St.; 212-587-5389

What You’ll Find
A huge, brand-spanking-new bookstore that’s child-receptive. Unlike the notorious Park Slope branch, this expansive B&N welcomes strollers, even providing a corral to park the Quinny while the urchins field-test the latest board books.

What You Won’t
Peace and quiet. But there’s a Starbucks-stocked café out of ear range, and unlike, say, Union Square, it’s not overrun with latte-nursing students and magazine-browsing regulars.

Area Amenities
An equally spacious, equally sparkling Bed, Bath & Beyond just opened in the same building. For now, both of these Tribeca locations are underpatronized, so enjoy the 1.5-to-1 staff-to-customer ratio while you can.


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Other Best Of Guides

So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).