4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Behemoth be damned: Like it or not, superstore Barnes & Noble has conquered Manhattan and the outer boroughs, with prices on current bestsellers—30 percent off retail, plus an additional 10 percent off for club members—that are really hard to beat. Fiction's the chain's main strength. Other areas, like science and art, aim for breadth, but the inventory can be patchy depending on the location. B&N is also a decent place for reasonably-priced gifts; in addition to journals, board games and java-related paraphernalia, sale and remainder aisles display hundreds of coffee table books at drastic discounts. (Good deals are harder to find in the CD and DVD section.) The in-house cafés, basically Starbucks satellites, suggest serious hanging out—though you'll be competing with students, freelancers, bookworms, nannies, and the odd homeless person for a seat. Laptop users can avail themselves of Wi-Fi access at a nominal hourly rate. Most branches feature readings by well-noted authors as well as events for kids.