As a book nerd, it’s hard to be “cool.” Between the oversized glasses, the paper cuts from turning pages too quickly, and the inconsolable sobbing over fictional characters, we have it rough. But there’s one place we can fake it ’til we make it—Instagram. Luckily, #bookstagram is having a serious moment, and you can be in the club if you just find the right setting for your photo. We’re here to help you with that.
We’ve picked NYC’s most Instagrammable bookstores for the sole purpose of helping you capture those likes. You’re welcome. If you don’t see your fave bookstore, that’s because I didn’t feel like writing about more than 6 (just kidding—throw yours in the comments!)
1. THE STRAND
Main location: 828 Broadway New York, NY
Central Park Kiosk: E. 60th St & 5th Ave, New York, NY
Okay, so every NYC book lover already knows about The Strand (or at least pretends to), but we’re going to start with the basics here. A staple in New York bookstores, The Strand is a must-visit and of course, a must-snap. Their official Instagram is chock full of all their own products (duh), but admittedly, their products are amazing. Ranging from Frida Kahlo book bags (get one, seriously), to quirky, quotable notecards and an immense amount of carefully curated stacks of beautiful books, this Insta is a book nerd’s bread and butter.
For your own Instagram account, you can definitely go the basic Instagrammer’s route and hold a cool book up in front of The Strand’s distinctive awning, aka the bibliophile’s version of #foodintheair. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless selection of Insta-worthy content strewn across The Strand’s 18 miles of books, feel free to check out The Strand’s tumblr for some inspiration (Read: copy their exact combination of book stacks).
2. MCNALLY JACKSON
We just received one copy of the previous edition of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and we’re hiding it in Japanese lit. If you’re the lucky person who purchases it, you’ll undoubtedly exit the bookstore into a world in many ways similar to this one, but also unmistakably different. And probably one with more cats.
A photo posted by @mcnallyjackson on
Another well-known bookstore, McNally Jackson is perfection. I guarantee you will fall in love with the place. Their Instagram account is rife with stacks of colorful, edgy titles artfully strewn about, but let’s get real and talk about your Instagram account. Foregoing the usual choice of book covers (this place has too much to offer otherwise), I suggest you set up a photoshoot in the café.
Wallpapered with manuscript pages and studded with carved, retractable wooden book-shaped book holders that fall open like a clam to hold open your newest novel, this café’s aesthetic is everything your Instagram needs. And if you thought your nerd heart couldn’t grow any larger, just wait. The light fixtures hanging from the ceiling are threaded through with stacks of books! With Insta content this good, you’ll have a coronary trying to pick your favorite pic.
Forgive me for soliloquizing (I swear I’m not being paid off!), but there’s even more to fall in love with at McNally Jackson. Not only do they have their own printing press where you can personalize classic titles or custom journals (for the ‘gram obviously), but they also have a stunning Picture Room located on Mulberry Street where they sell contemporary works, rare prints, and posters. The Picture Room’s Instagram is brimming with photos of the art they display, so you can get inspired by those pictures, or if you want to really cool, snap one of their artist’s exhibitions.
3. BONNIE SLOTNICK’S COOKBOOKS
28 East Second St, New York, NY 10003
This is definitely a niche store, but it is so worth the visit. Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks only sells cookbooks (duh), but you won’t find Everyday with Rachel Ray tucked away on a shelf here. Bonnie specializes in out-of-print and antique cookbooks, and it is scattered with vintage baking accessories such as tea towels, sugar bowls, and measuring cups. Bonnie’s decorations are so homey, it makes you feel like you’re back at your grandma’s.
While Bonnie doesn’t have an official Instagram account for her store (which would be very off-brand anyway), her quaint bookstore is a hashtag, so you can view the weathered copies of The Homemaker’s Encyclopedia Bonnie has to offer, or you can look at shots of Bonnie’s homey set-up—kitchen counters included!
Bonnie’s offers all the kitschy kitchen (get it?) shots and adorable antique cookbook covers you could ever want. For the eagle-eyed readers, you can snap a pic of the super gross recipes that were so weirdly popular in the old days (they put EVERYTHING in jello!) to disgust/impress your followers. Bonnie’s offers loads of vintage charm, no Gingham filter required!