The BURIED Book Club discussion

Book shops on the US East Coast

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message 1: by Henry (new)

Henry | 40 comments Hi,

I will be touristing the US for the first time this fall, so I was wondering if someone in this group could recommend one or more antiquarian/second hand book shops in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn), Philadelphia, Washington and possibly Boston where I could hunt down out of print, odd and buried books.

Thanks advance for any hints in the right direction!

message 2: by Brant (new)

Brant | 3 comments Hi Henry,

As for downtown DC, the one store you should make sure to hit is Second Story Books, which is right off of Dupont Circle. Particularly wonderful non-fiction sections, but though their fiction section is relatively small, it's often stocked with some wonderful stuff. Here's their web site:

(And, of course, there is Strand is NYC, which is a must.)

Hope you have a great trip!

message 3: by Griffin (new)

Griffin Alexander | 23 comments In New York City:

Strand Books [828 Broadway, New York, • 10003-4805] as noted above—they have a lot of new books, but the real value is in the used books (including the rare book room on the third floor where I snagged an autographed 1st edition of The Bridge of Lost Desire by Samuel R. Delany for $3 above original cover price). I found a copy of The Dying Grass here for 50% off cover price three weeks before its official release date. Worth browsing hard. They regularly have new copies of Arno Schmidt's stuff for ~$5, and Leon Forrest paperbacks for $4. The obscure used doesn't move, so they price it accordingly. It's all luck of the draw with their used stock (goes without saying), but you can get VERY lucky—not to mention their dollar-book-racks outside are dusted with gold. A a friend of mine found a first-chapbook-edition of Amiri Barkaka/LeRoi Jones' Preface To a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note (worth ~$400). You have to be willing to dig out there though.

Alabaster Bookshop [122 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003] Around the corner from Strand. The prices here are generally high, but worth browsing. It is the last surviving shop of the infamous and now vanished "book row."

Book Culture [536 W 112th St, New York, NY 10025] Once again, a lot of new stuff (on the first floor), go up to the second and browse a huge u-shaped shelf of all their used stuff. Their prices don't get as dirt cheap as Strand does for the more obscure good and BURIED stuff we talk shop on in this thread, but they have a LOT of used stock.

East Village Books [99 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009] One of my favorites I have been going to as long as I have lived in NYC. Great selection of poetry/lit/sci-fi. Worth a long browse.

Mast Books [66 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009] Right around the corner from the above-listed East Village books, this place has higher used prices than a lot of places, but they also have 40-year-old paperbacks in pristine condition. You never know what you will find here. I make the rounds often, and I have found things here that I have never seen anywhere else in the US (I do a lot of used book snooping when I travel). They have good prices on things that don't sell great, so if you want 1st edition Vollmann/Theroux/Young, this is the place to get it in great shape at a lowish price point. Their more obscure poetry is priced higher than what would be considered a "score" but they have such a nice stock of it it's hard to hold it against them—I got an original hardcover of Aimé Césaire's complete poetry (with a mylar jacket they nicely add to all of their rare-ish hardcovers) for $25, so take that for what you will.

Mercer Street Books [206 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012] I call this one the magic bookstore, because scattered among all that I don't want I miraculously find one or two great things at a great price (What comes to mind: a pb of Samuel R. Delany's Atlantis [which I have never seen used]; A first hardcover edition of Presentation Piece by Marilyn Hacker; and a copy of Selected Writings of Charles Olson for $4. They have this table in the middle of the room that is unsorted, but therein lays the good stuff.

McNally Jackson Books [52 Prince St, New York, NY 10012] This is not a used bookstore, but is the best new book store in Manhattan with the best selection of obscure, academic, literature, and critical theory titles.


Book Thug Nation [100 N 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11249] A great one with reasonable pricing, and some obscure stuff can come through (for me, an 80s hardcover of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman).

Human Relations [1067 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237] One of my favorites close to home: wonderful selection and a ton of stock.

Molasses Books [770 Hart St, Brooklyn, NY 11237] Decent selection, but they have coffee and a bar and you can hang out here. Pricing is a little high though.

Better Read Than Dead [867 Broadway, Brooklyn NY 11206] I work at this shop sometimes, and it is little more than a shipping container full of books. It's tight, but we have the lowest used book prices in all of NYC and usually pretty good stock. Come thru!

Unnameable Books [600 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238] Half used and half new. Nice shop to visit, good selection.


message 4: by Henry (new)

Henry | 40 comments Wow, thanks for the lengthy post, Griffin. It is particular helpful as you listed a few stores that are in walking distance from where I'll be staying (near Essex St station). Apparently there is also a good connection to the store you work in. So I might actually pop in.

Also thanks Brant for pointing me towards the store in Washington.

I guess I have to bring an empty suitcase after all.

message 5: by Rick (new)

Rick (toughpoets) | 65 comments Boston has the Brattle Book Shop and Commonwealth Books

message 6: by Griffin (new)

Griffin Alexander | 23 comments oh! I forgot. Also close to where you will be staying is:

Housing Works Bookstore [126 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012] Right around the corner from McNally Jackson (listed above). This is a non-profit offshoot of the Housing Works thrift stores. Everything is donated, and as such priced in the $5-$10 range (aside from rare titles), all money goes to helping people living with AIDS find and maintain affordable housing. This is the bookstore where I have heard of great scores—someone over at the William T Vollmann Central group said they found the unabridged Rising Up and Rising Down for $50 here. I have only ever found good stuff, not great, but they have a cafe and a lot of seating and it is worth your time to check it out!

message 7: by Rand (new)

Rand (iterate) | 99 comments If you do make it to Boston and enjoy poems now and again, you owe it to yourself to check out Groiler's, the nation's oldest space devoted specifically to the sale of poetry.

message 8: by Henry (new)

Henry | 40 comments Ah, I'm afraid I am not an avid reader of poetry. But thanks for the hint.

Also, thanks for the additions, Rick & Griffin.

message 9: by Nate (last edited Jul 26, 2016 07:37AM) (new)

Nate (rockhyrax) | 354 comments Most of my key haunts are in that first post, but if you want to head deeper, there're also:

-Topos in Ridgewood, Queens (great selection, in the Book Thug / Human Relations family)
-Here's A Bookstore in Midwood, Brooklyn (family-owned spot with some gems buried three rows deep into the shelves)
-Freebird Books in Red Hook, Brooklyn (despite the inexplicable/terrible name, they have the best prices I've seen on a very well-curated selections of oddities)

message 10: by Henry (new)

Henry | 40 comments By the way, I managed to visit Strand, East Village Books (too pricey for what was on offer), Book Culture and Better Read Than Dead duringt my recent trip. I also discovered a great shop in Philadelphia by the name of The Last Word (220 S 40th St).

By and large I made some good findings although I had strict rules (books must not have been translated into German, especially for foreign authors, books must not be available in my local library). Here is what I bought:

Alexander Theroux – Laura Warholic, or the sexual intellectual
Robert Coover – Pinocchio in Venice
Kay Boyle – Three Short Novels
Flann O’Brien – The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien
William T. Vollmann – Butterfly Stories
William T. Vollmann – 13 Stories & 13 Epitaphs
William T. Vollmann – Uncentering the Earth
William T. Vollmann – The Atlas
William T. Vollmann – Argall
Andrei Platonov – The Foundation Pit
Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead revisited

The last two aren't buried, but for the sake of completenesse mentioned here. I got most of the Vollmanns in Better Read Than Dead actually and paid only about 30 $ for the whole lot.

I found more interesting looking things, for example Mariano Azuela, Euclido de Cunhas, Susako Endo, but they have all been translated into German.

Also, I couldn't bring more books as I was already very close to the monetary limit for goods that I could bring back without paying custom duties (I had to bring guitar gear, records and sweets as well).

Thanks for your tips!

message 11: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Henry wrote: "By the way, I managed to visit Strand, East Village Books (too pricey for what was on offer), Book Culture and Better Read Than Dead duringt my recent trip. I also discovered a great shop in Philad..."

Sounds damn fine!

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