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12th Street Books

11 E. 12th St., New York, NY 10003 40.73442 -73.993913
nr. Fifth Ave.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-645-4340 Send to Phone

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  • Price Range: ($) Budget
  • Products & Services: Books

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Nearby Subway Stops

4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.

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12th Street Books looks like a small reference library tucked into the lower level of a brownstone, with 20,000 book spines—there’s hardly a cover to be seen—cataloging the humanities and literate fiction in a far cleaner, if more sterile, environment than your typical secondhand seller. Co-operator Jed Hershon, a savvy book-selling veteran, fills his shelves with venerable old collections from all over the East Coast, but also tosses out anything irrelevant or old in his standing stock. This means one month the shelves may be heavy with history, while the next they could be flooded with poetry. But never will you find anything tattered or dusty, and the fiction collection remains thoroughly outside of trendy titles and pop authors. (You'll only find Steven King in the form of a first edition, and any Times best sellers are probably of the award-winning variety.) Some budget paperbacks are present (Penguin Classics, Dover books, and pulpy sci-fi), but they're each carefully cordoned and easy to browse; textbooks are barred entirely, not that many college students pass through. Most of the customers are older neighborhood residents, other book dealers, or tourists, but Hershon admits that it might be the obscure experimental music he plays that drives away the Forever 21 set.

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