New York City is the epicenter of American book publishing. Home to book publishers, a wealth of bookstores, libraries, book fairs and conventions, it's definitely "booked up." The city is home to plenty of readings and signings by live authors, with a history of notable dead authors. The Big Apple is a paradise for visiting book lovers. Here's a sampling of what they will find.
The Big Five Book Publishers
New York City is headquarters for the Big Five major publishing houses along with scores of others publishers, large and small. You can often tell book publishing professionals by the overloaded canvas book, or publisher-branded bags they are schlepping on the subway.
New York City Libraries
The immense, lion-guarded main branch of The New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is a landmark for tourists, a resource for scholars and a haven for writers. Peek into the majestic Rose Main Reading Room, and you’ll see researchers studying and writers—both aspiring and established—diligently tapping away on their laptops.
The Morgan Library and Museum on Madison and 36th Street is a treasure trove for bibliomaniacs. Visitors to “the Morgan” can explore its stunning collection of the history of the written word, from ancient cuneiform tablets to Gutenberg Bibles, including the partial manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons.
New York City Bookstores
New York City is the birthplace of Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest bookstore chain and there are notable branches in the city, including Union Square, Warren Street, Midtown, and the Upper East and Upper West Sides.
Smaller stores include McNally Jackson in SoHo, an outpost of a Canadian chain; the Left-leaning St. Mark’s Bookshop sits in the East Village; there’s the BookBook on Bleecker Street; and Three Lives & Company (“84 Charing Cross Road colored by the time and place”).
There are some specialty booksellers in New York City, like The Mysterious Bookshop and Kitchen Arts and Letters, as well as antiquarian and used bookstores. For bargains and hidden treasures, there is the massive, well-curated, used-book emporium The Strand on 13th and Broadway. The Housing Works used bookstore in SoHo is uniquely situated and designed, and its proceeds go to charity.
Notable Brooklyn bookstores include Word Bookstore and Community Bookstore If you visit, don’t be surprised to see booksellers on the street and lining the parks.
New York City Book Fairs and Conventions
Brooklyn is host to the Brooklyn Book Fair each September, a consumer-oriented event filled with writers and readers of all stripes. The Jacob Javits Convention Center in the West 30s is frequently home to the annual BookExpo, the annual US convention of publishing professionals.
New York City Book Media and Events
To be in New York City is to be a part of a large literary community. It’s the home of the New York Times “Book Review” and the paper's Best-Seller Lists, as well as the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle. There are hundreds of book events in bookstores and bars, such as the ones in East Village’s KGB or Brooklyn’s Pete’s Candy Store.
New York City Bookish Bars
And, speaking of bars and writers, the city has a long history of their (sometimes unfortunate) convergence. O. Henry penned The Gift of the Magi in Pete’s Tavern in the Gramercy Park neighborhood. McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village was immortalized by The New Yorker’s infamously blocked writer Joseph Mitchell. The White Horse Tavern in the West Village was the site of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s last drink before he died from having a few too many.
Books and New York City Neighborhoods
From the Harlem of W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes to Midtown’s Algonquin Round Table, to the Greenwich Village of Walt Whitman, Henry James and, later, the Beat Poets, it’s hard to find a corner of the city without literary history.
The borough of Brooklyn is, according to writer Jonathan Lethem, “repulsive with novelists.” Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) lived in Williamsburg. Writers as diverse as Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead) and Gypsy Rose Lee (The G-String Murders) lived in Brooklyn Heights. Many contemporary authors like Jennifer Egan, Colm Toibin, Rick Moody and Kate Christiansen have called the borough their home.
During a typical New York City rush hour you’ll see subway commuters reading books and devices, while thousands of book clubs are meeting in apartments, restaurants and bars to discuss their selections.