1. Weitz, Weitz & Coleman
1377 Lexington Ave.
Herb Weitz—son of Leo Weitz, the founder, who opened this place in 1909— is one of the city’s last custom bookbinders. Once you’ve seen his work, you’ll never look at a paperback without a certain sadness again.
2. Kenneth W. Rendell Galleries
989 Madison Ave.
Spectacular autographs and manuscripts. A Mark Twain manuscript of a poem, for example, is $27,500, and a signed letter from Raymond Chandler is $3,000.
3. Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Ave.
Pierpont Morgan’s neoclassical former digs now house the city’s best rare-book and manuscript collection this side of Columbia or the Public Library.
4. Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave.
Featured prominently in Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. His superhero illegally lived on the 72nd floor, while fictional Empire Comics was on the 25th. (In real life, Timely Comics, which became Marvel, did occupy an office there.)
5. West 18th Street
between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Two good bookstores (Skyline for grown-ups; Books of Wonder for kids), a fine classical-music emporium (Academy Records and CDs), and three excellent stationers (A.I. Friedman, Paper Presentation, and Paper Access) make this a destination block. Bonus: City Bakery.
6. The Strand Book Store’s Rare-Book Room
Noticeably cheaper for modern first editions than other rare-book dealers. (Aside from the first printing of Ulysses that’s $40,000 and kept in a safe.)
7. Café Loup
105 W. 13th St.
The after-party bistro of choice for writers and editors young and old (most of whom aren’t paying the tab). Most recently, Granta held its big “Best Young American Novelists” party there.
8. Three Lives & Company
154 W. 10th St.
Two blocks from the site of the Stonewall riot, this shop, fronted by displays determined by the staff, not by the publishers, caters well to its gay-lit clientele while being one of the city’s all-around best indie bookstores.
9. East Village Books
99 St. Marks Pl.
There used to be dozens of dusty neighborhood secondhand-book shops like this, with stock handpicked by (and for) smart people. Now it’s down to the Strand plus a couple of tiny holdouts, and East Village Books is as good as they get.
10. KGB Bar
85 E. 4th St.
Even when the city’s best young writers aren’t offering up new work at the podium by the bar (Darin Strauss, Arthur Phillips, and Jerry Stahl in recent weeks), the crowd of buzzed writers and editors who frequent this Soviet-kitsch institution make this one of New York’s best bars in which to drunkenly talk up a book proposal.
11. Think Coffee
248 Mercer St.
It’s an NYU hangout, but for aspiring writers, there are few better places to spend the day nursing a single cup of fair-trade coffee over a Wi-Fi-connected laptop.
12. Bowery Poetry Club
Started up by a co-founder of the Nuyorican, this is where the remnants of the slam poetry scene meet the remnants of pre-gentrified Skid Row. They even have some genuine Bowery poets on now and then.
13. New Paris Review Offices
62 White St.
Post–George Plimpton, the journal moved out of his Upper East Side townhouse and into this Tribeca loft, modernizing its space along with its mission under new editor Philip Gourevitch (while retaining a pool table, albeit coin-operated).
826 NYC (a.k.a. the Superhero Supply Co.)
372 Fifth Ave.
The storefront that houses the East Coast branch of Dave Eggers’s do-gooder tutoring outfit still offers McSweeney’s products and twee items (capes, utility belts) that’ll leave you pleased or irritated.
The Jonathan Safran Foer–Nicole Krauss Residence
646 2nd St.
Park Slope’s most famous literary denizens (sorry, Paul Auster) snapped up this triple-lot brownstone last year for $5.75 million.
208 Smith St.
This year-old store in the heart of bookish Brooklyn seems to be the nexus of comic (er, graphic-novel) fandom, with comic artists like Peter Kuper and Jamie Tanner holding almost weekly book launches.
148 Hoyt St.
Brooklyn lit hero and anti-Ratner agitator Jonathan Lethem, who lives down the block, has been known to stop by this beautiful old tin-ceilinged bar beloved of Brooklyn literary types. It even made a (nameless) cameo in Motherless Brooklyn.