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Bookstores of New York


Last week I was in New York. The purpose of the visit was to attend two antiquarian book fairs, but I always try to make time to visit booksellers in their stores. Nothing can replace the touch and feel of a beautiful book and talking to someone that is passionate about what they do.

Walking into an antiquarian bookshop is a bit like opening a treasure chest; you never know what you are going to find and there are always hidden gems. I love knowing that I can walk into these stores and find something that I know has had a long and interesting life and belonged to people that cared enough to preserve and share them.

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One of the shops I visited was Argosy Books in midtown Manhattan. Argosy Books was founded in 1925 and is now in its third generation of family ownership. There are books on the shelves, books in stacks and piled on tables. All combined with great lighting and small pops of colour from flowers placed throughout the store to make you feel instantly comfortable and welcome.

Argosy specializes in Americana, modern first editions, autographs, art, maps & prints and books about the history of science and medicine. If those aren’t up your alley, you will also find many other books in a wide variety of topics and with a wide variety of prices. If you have the time and you’re in New York, Argosy is definitely a store you should visit.

Another shop I visited was the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore on Madison Avenue. This store evolved from The Complete Traveller Bookstore which was the first travel bookstore in the US. As the name states, this shop specializes in collectible travel literature and has one of the best collections of authentic Baedeker travel guides. Baedekers are considered to be the first modern travel guides and can be easily identified by their distinct red cover. The books were treasured for their detailed historic accounts and the many fold out maps they contain.

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This is a unique and specialized shop and definitely worth a visit if you love travel, history and culture.

No visit to New York is complete for me until I visit The Strand. Strand never disappoints and I always walk away with at least one, well really several books. This time I came home with something for my children, but I love it too: This is New York by Miroslav Sasek. We love these books in my house and have many others in the This Is…. series.

Most people know that Strand is a great place to go for affordable books, but it also has a fantastic Rare Book Room. Hop in the elevator and go up to the 3rd floor, and you’ll walk into a room filled with lovely old books, many of which can be found on AbeBooks.

Strand also has many affordable and collectible signed first editions. The day of my visit, they were getting ready for a book signing and talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz, discussing his newest book This is How You Lose Her.

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Bookstores in New York offer a slice of history and small pieces of beauty that will draw you in and make you love books even more.

Guest post compliments of Maria Hutchison, AbeBooks Account Manager for our rare and collectible segment.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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