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Words Don't Cost a Thing
In addition to mega-bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, the following venues hold regular reading series at no charge.

BY JENIFER VAN VLECK

Printed matter: Housing Works Used Book Cafe.

Housing Works Used Book Cafe
This salon-like cafe/bookstore draws writers like Rick Moody and Art Spiegelman. Proceeds go to Housing Works, a non-profit that provides services to people living with AIDS.
• 126 Crosby St., 212-334-3324; housingworks.org/usedbookscafe.

The Poetry Project
Founded in 1966, the Poetry Project is still the epicenter of downtown Manhattan's poetics scene. St. Mark's Church itself is one of the city's most serene spaces for contemplation.
• 131 E. 10th St., 212-674-0910; poetryproject.com.

KGB Bar
The reading series at this Communist-themed bar has been so successful that it's produced two print anthologies, The KGB Bar Reader and The KGB Bar Book of Poems. Smart (and smartly dressed) hipsters turn out for appearances by marquee literati like Augusten Burroughs, Jennifer Egan, and Michael Cunningham, as well as lesser-known emerging talents.
• 85 E. 4th St., 212-505-3360; kgbbar.com.

not quite free...
Nuyorican Poets Café

From experimental theater to film, there's always something happening here — and that's been the case for almost three decades. The Friday night poetry slams, which begin about 10pm, are legendary; admission is only $7.
• 236 E. 3rd St., 212-505-8183; nuyorican.org.

Bowery Poetry Club

The downtown poetry scene has a permanent home in this venue, which opened last year. Event prices vary, with most ranging from free to $12.
• 308 Bowery, 212-614-0505; bowerypoetry.com.