If you love reading, New York City offers a vibrant literary scene with a wide range of bookstores. Some bookstores are quaint and cozy, others are massive, while others are endearingly quirky. Whatever bookstore appeals to you, the following women-owned bookstores have truly brought something special to their respective neighborhoods.
From the first Asian American woman-owned bookstore in Manhattan’s Chinatown to the first (and only) bookstore in the Bronx—if you’re looking for a place to cozy up with a book (and maybe even a glass of wine), read on for some of our favorite women-owned bookstores.
Dating back to the mid-1920s, The Strand is one of the most famous bookstores in New York City. Originally founded by Benjamin Bass, the store has stayed within the Bass family name and is now owned and operated by Nancy Bass Wyden. The Strand is expansive, with rows and rows of new, used, and rare books. The store also hosts author readings, signings, and other literary events. The Strand can be found in Manhattan, around the corner from Union Square.
Bluestockings Cooperative Bookstore
Bluestockings is a volunteer-powered bookstore and activist center that is owned by a collective of women. The store focuses on books that promote feminist, queer, and anti-oppressive politics and also hosts community events, workshops, and film screenings. Bluestockings is located on Suffolk Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore is owned by Janifer Wilson and is a community-focused bookstore located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. This woman-owned bookstore specializes in books by and about people of color and also hosts book clubs, author events, and other community events.
Cafe Con Libros
Cafe con Libros (which translates to coffee with books) is a feminist bookstore in Brooklyn owned by Kalima DeSuze. This woman-owned bookstore features a selection of books by women, queer authors, as well as a selection of coffee and baked goods.
Founded by Sarah McNally, McNally Jackson is a New York institution. With one location in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, the bookstore is known for its extensive selection of books, including bestsellers, classics, and indie titles. Notably, McNally Jackson has its very own in-house printing press, which allows the store to publish and sell its own line of books.
Yu and Me
Found in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, Yu and Me Books is the first Asian American woman-owned bookstore in New York City. The bookstore is focused on celebrating the stories of immigrants across the country, with a focus on Asian Americans. At the bookstore, you’ll find a peaceful setting where a generous selection of books by the BIPOC community can be enjoyed over coffee, beer, and wine.
The Astoria Bookshop is a neighborhood favorite found in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens. Originally founded by Lexi Beach in 2013, this community bookstore boasts a diverse and carefully curated selection of titles to enjoy. Beyond its books—many of which are penned by local authors—this woman-owned bookstore hosts author readings and signings, book clubs, writing workshops, and children’s storytime.
Sweet Pickle Books
Founded by Leigh Altshuler, Sweet Pickle Books can be found on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This charming bookshop pays homage to the neighborhood’s rich Jewish history, which was once called the “Pickle District.” Today, book lovers can trade old books for a jar of pickles. The bookstore has three kinds of craft pickles on offer, including dill, spicy, and bread and butter.
The Lit Bar
Located in the Bronx, The Lit Bar was founded by Noëlle Santos in 2019, after the Bronx had been without a bookstore for several years. Notably, The Lit Bar is the only independent bookstore in the borough and has quickly become a much-beloved community staple. The store is known for its diverse selection of books, including a wide range of genres such as literary fiction, memoir, children’s books, and social justice titles. In addition to its impressive selection of books, The Lit Bar is also a popular spot for events, such as author readings and book signings, live music performances, and book clubs.