The Strand Bookstore

imagesIf we want to talk about independent bookstores, we should probably start with the North American grande dame of them.

A bookstore with a unionized work force of over 200 people?

A bookstore with an entire floor devoted to the arts?

A bookstore that still utilizes the $1 cart by the front door?

The Strand has you covered. The catch, if you consider it one, is that these are used books. The Strand’s buyers are careful about condition and I don’t mind someone else’s inscription of my frontispiece if it means paying half of the cover price for a recent release. The place is huge and crowded but well organized and staffed by an army so the shopping experience is more Indigo and less used-book charity shop.

Located in Manhattan’s East Village, the Strand has been stocking New Yorkers’ bookshelves since 1927. It’s moved around a bit, opened and closed secondary locations, and crammed itself onto three floor at the corner of Broadway and East 12th since the fifties. As well as used books for the everyday reader the Strand stocks a large and interesting rare books selection.

Let’s talk about online, shall we? It’s how many of us buy our books these days and our instinct is to do so through Amazon because it’s cheap and has every book under the sun. Please allow yourself to be convinced that buying through the Strand’s site is the better option. While shipping costs, particularly outside of the United States, are steep for those of us used to Amazon’s free policy, the Strand’s per-title book price means you’ll still come out on top cost-wise. If you’re looking for a list of books rather than a single, the Strand is almost always going to be your better bet, even when you factor in those shipping fees. The books won’t arrive at your door overnight, but you can always head to the library or around the corner to your local shop to find something to fill your hands while you wait for your delivery.

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