Bookstores have been a dying breed in NYC thanks to rising rents, e-readers and online retailers -- R. Mark's Bookshop and, soon, bookbook. Still, in recent years, local mom-and-pop shops have made a small comeback as New Yorkers seek out a local, literary experience that can't be found on Amazon.
The independent bookstore seems to be a dying breed. That is even truer of the specialty independent: the bookstore that services a specific clientele, with curated offerings to fit the community. The places are treasure troves of rare and under-appreciated books.
In the pre-Stonewall years, amidst an atmosphere of fear and repression, gay bars and other social gathering spaces were crucial in creating a sense of community and brewing political agitation. This curated theme highlights a few sites near Stonewall, all of which are included in a walking tour brochure that we produced in collaboration with the National Parks Conservation Association. See the overall map of Greenwich Village for sites we have added so far.
Bluestockings is a volunteer-powered and collectively-owned radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We also carry zines, journals, alternative menstrual products and other oddly hard-to-find good things. We host readings, workshops, performances, discussions and films almost every night.
An independent bookstore opened last month with a performance by Gio Black Peter, a downtown artist. The crowd, a mix of young bearded men in button-down shirts and their equally hirsute but graying elders, applauded heartily at the end of the reading, their introduction to the Bureau for General Services — Queer Division, a gay bookstore that relocated last month to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village. To succeed, they plan to do things differently.
Billyburg cuties can call this place their own. The cozy, s ski-lodge—inspired space, with two fireplaces and exposed-brick walls, is home to a friendly crowd of guys and gals chilling with nightly drink specials at the weekly DJ parties. Count on subversive drag shows all week long.
Gay bookstores offered a space to meet other LGBT people besides the bars and were often the first stop for someone new to town. Remember, this is before the Internet. But several venerable repositories remain, treasure troves full of knowledge and wonder for queer people and allies.
Log in via Facebook to save your favorites so you can see them anytime, from anywhere. New York City has a reputation for being fashion-forward. The five boroughs are glammed up and celeb-driven, and when NYC is dressed to the nines, no other city can compare.
Like many New Yorkers, Craig Rodwell had a vision. He imagined a world where gay men would no longer be restricted to the bars and bathhouses in the city as the only places to congregate. A vice president of the Mattachine Society, a gay political group in New York, Rodwell wanted to open a store that would cater to the growing local gay community.