New York City is the cradle of American book publishing. Home of the Big Six book publishers, NYC is also filled with bookstores, libraries, book fairs and conventions, readings and signings by live authors and histories and the traces and history of dead authors. The Big Apple is a paradise for visiting booklovers; this is just a sampling of what they will find.
New York City Book Publishers - The Big Five (Plus) Book Publishers
New York City is headquarters for the “Big Five” major publishing houses--HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, along with scores of others publishers, large and small--like Scholastic, Workman--all creating works for our reading pleasure.
New York City Libraries
The Morgan Library and Museum is a treasure trove for bibliomaniacs. Visitors to “the Morgan” can explore its stunning collection of the history of the written word, from ancient cuniform tablets to Gutenberg Bibles to the partial manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons--and well beyond.
Not far from the Morgan is the immense, lion-guarded main branch of The New York Public Library (there are dozens of local branches). Peek into the Rose Main Reading Room and you’ll see researchers studying and writers--both aspiring and established--diligently tapping away on their laptops.
New York City Bookstores and Other Booksellers
New York City is the “birthplace” of Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest bookstore chain and there are now a number of branches in the city. Smaller stores include McNally Jackson in SoHo, an outpost of a Canadian chain; the well-established Shakespeare & Company has stores in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side, Brooklyn and Grammercy Park; and the Left-leaning St. Mark’s Bookshop sits in the East Village. In the West Village, there’s the Biography Bookshop and Three Lives & Company (“84 Charing Cross Road colored by the time and place”). Posman’s in Grand Central Terminal has a well-curated selection of both bestsellers and backlist in a relatively small space, and is convenient for commuters and for visiting tourists.
There are a number of specialty booksellers in New York City--like The Mysterious Bookshop--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 for AIDS used bookstore in SoHo is uniquely situated and designed, and its proceeds go to charity.
Notable Brooklyn bookstores include Book Court and Community Bookstores and, if you visit, don’t be surprised to see booksellers on the street and lining the parks (though even we New Yorkers can’t tell whether those guys are legit, or whether those books “fell off a truck”).
New York City Book Fairs and Conventions
Brooklyn is host to the Brooklyn Book Fair each September, an consumer-oriented event filled with writers and readers of all stripes.
The Jacob Javits Convention Center in the West 30s is home to the annual BookExpo -- a convention of publishing professionals -- at least through 2015.
New York City Book Media
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,” with its Bestseller List; the home-base of Pia Lindstrom’s book show on Sirius Radio; the place where Barnes & Noble’s Nook was conceived (B&N headquarters is located in the Flatiron District). Newspaper and magazine calendars list the hundreds of author reading and signing taking place in bookstores--and in bars, like the 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 Grammercy 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 lived in Williamsburg (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is set there); writers as diverse as Norman Mailer and Gypsy Rose Lee (yep: The G-String Murders) lived in Brooklyn Heights; and many contemporary authors like Jennifer Egan, Colm Toibin, Rick Moody, and Kate Christiansen call 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 and restaurants and bars to discuss their selections. Whether for writers, readers, booksellers or book publishing pros, is definitely “booked up.”