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Best Independent Bookstore

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Gotham Book Mart & Gallery
41 West 47th Street
212-719-4448

We don't want to hear another word about Shakespeare & Company. The much-mourned Upper West Side flagship was a good bookstore, sure, but the clerks were at best distant and at worst pointedly unhelpful. At the Gotham Book Mart, on the other hand, the staff members actually seem to like people who read -- even if they know more than you do. Which is why they can find anything on the shop's shelves, many of which are filled two books deep. For fun, there's a steady supply of books inscribed by the Victorian-out-of-time illustrator Edward Gorey, alias Ogdred Weary, alias Garrod Weedy. Spend a moment in the foyer, which displays memorabilia from book parties and readings held here by the likes of Dylan Thomas and W. H. Auden. This ancient store is strangely placed, smack in the middle of the 47th Street diamond district, which grew up around it. That's appropriate, we say: The Gotham's treasures are no less precious than the neighbors'.

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