Liberty and Bookstores for All


Published: September 22, 2010

This January, the Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Square (located at 1972 Broadway) will be closing its doors for good after 15 years of business. Among other factors, the book retail giant has been driven out of the Lincoln Center area by high rents, competition from online retailers such as Amazon, and the rise of e-books. While Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students looking to browse through a large selection of books will still be able to walk to Borders on the second floor of the Time Warner Center or take the subway to the Strand bookstore near Union Square, there are many independently owned shops ideal for those looking for a bookstore experience beyond the norm. Instead of the usual chain retailer, consider supporting one of these independent Manhattan booksellers.

Westsider Rare & Used Books

Westsider is a two-level bookstore, local to FCLC, which buys and sells used books of nearly every genre. The store has been a presence on the Upper West Side in one form or another for almost 40 years, along with its partner store Westsider Records, located at 233 W. 72nd St. As the staff there sees it, Westsider has never competed with Barnes & Noble because they stock rarer books that aren’t available new in any store, as well as older editions of books still in print for much less than their new trade paperback prices. The decorations at Westsider Books seem to come right out of the books that line the high shelves. Among them are an intricate tribal mask, an old machine gun and stickers from dozens of places. Westsider feels like your own personal library to explore, and because they are so close, there is little reason not to look.

How to Get There: Walk, or take the 1 north to 79th Street. then continue up Broadway. Store is located at 2246 Broadway (between 80th and 81st Streets)
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
More Info: (212) 362-0706

Three Lives & Company 

The name of this bookstore is a reference to both the title of a compilation of short stories by Gertrude Stein, and to the three owners that founded the bookstore back in 1978. Though the store has changed locations and owners over the years, it still serves the West Village by specializing in both new and classic works of fiction. The store is a relatively small yet comfortable space with squeaky hardwood floors and a friendly staff that will gladly guide you to the title of your choice. The personable employees are far more knowledgeable than those working at the typical chain bookstore. If you are looking for non-fiction you may want to search somewhere else, but for fiction both new and old, Three Lives is the perfect shop.

How to Get There: Take the 1 to Christopher-Sheridan Street. Walk north up Seventh Avenue and then east on 10th Street. Store is located at 154 W. 10th St.
Store Hours:Monday–Tuesday: 12 p.m.–8 p.m. ; Wednesday–Saturday: 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. ; Sunday: 12 p.m.–7 p.m.
More Info: (212) 741-2069;

Saint Mark’s Bookshop

This Lower East Side bookseller has been in business since 1977, specializing in art and culture books and independently published titles. Even if you aren’t in the market for a book on graphic design or architecture, the store is also very well stocked with a wide variety of other books. In fact, you may find some titles that larger book chains seem to overlook. The store also contains a small bargain section in the back with books priced perfectly for those looking for something different without having to empty your wallet. If you’re looking to browse through a bookstore with a nice independent feel but used books aren’t your thing, then Saint Mark’s Bookshop is sure to satisfy you.

How to Get There: Take the N/R to Eighth Street. Head east on Astor Place, and then north up Third Avenue. (Cooper Square). Store is located at 31 Third Ave. (between Eighth and Ninth Streets)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday 11 a.m.-midnight
More Info: (212) 260-7853;

Revolution Books

This bookshop should come with a warning. By no means is Revolution Books your average bookstore. As the name implies, this store specializes in political books, especially by Karl Marx or Marxist protégés. It may also be the only store in New York City where Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” is always stocked and out on display.  Beyond the radical leftist politics, Revolution Books is also a good place to stop for anyone interested in civil rights issues of any kind. The store contains sections for black history, women’s rights, and Native American history among others. At Revolution Books it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon talking to any of the staff about their political philosophies and the state of modern society. If nothing else, stop in for an experience that can be found nowhere else. You’ll be glad you did. Like all of the bookstores mentioned, it may take a little motivation to get there, but it is well worth the effort.

How to Get There: Take the 1 to 28th Street or the C to 23rd Street Store is located at 146 W. 26th St. (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues).
Store Hours: 12 p.m.–7 p.m. everyday
More Info:(212) 691-3345;