The Strand is part of a dying breed of bookstores in NYC, but thankfully this Greenwich Village institution still exists – book lovers rejoice! The Strand Bookstore at 828 Broadway has been stacked high with books old and new since opening its doors in 1927, and is a literary paradise thats caters to every sort of book worm imaginable with no exceptions. With “18 miles of books and counting” its hard not to find something to satisfy your tastebuds.
From the 1890’s to the 1960’s when you’d take a stroll along 4th avenue from Union Square to Astor place it was dominated by you guessed it, bookstores. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Book Row’, The Strand Bookstore is the last renaming survivor from this era. It was founded by 25 year-old Benjamin Bass with $600 dollars in his back pocket, and a genuine love for books and the power of educating yourself through literature. Dreams do come true. Thankfully for us, the Bass family still run the bookstore today.
Comics and graphic novel sales are sky-rocketing at The Strand, with thanks to movies such as Black Panther and The Avengers. With 2.5 million new, rare, and used books, the Strand houses some of the most diverse and influential literary collections across America.
Ben Bass named this store after an infamous publishing street in London, England. Back in the 18th century this street was a focal point for the British book trade, packed with all sorts of printing and publishing businesses (it couldn’t be more different today).
Hidden away on the fourth floor of The Strand (which you can only access by elevator) is the cream of the crop that is the Rare Book Room. This floor is packed with rare and precious books, and even some magazines. Its what’s inside the secret safe on this floor thats the most intriguing… The safe holds the Strand’s oldest book, German commentary on the Psalms printed in 1480 as well as the Strand’s most expensive book, a copy of Ulysses totalling $45,000, signed by none other than Henri Matisse (who illustrated this version) and James Joyce himself. Now whilst that may seem a lot, the most expensive item to ever sell at The Strand was Shakespeare’s first folio for an incredible $100,000!
Point to note, if you ever want to work at The Strand you’ll need to pass a book quiz which is no easy feat. But if your one of the lucky ones who do end up working here, you may even get to create your own piece of merchandise as all of the merchandise on sale is designed by the in-house staff. And with every book purchased, customers receive a classic Strand Bookstore bookmark. I wish I knew this before visiting as I walked out of the store with a sketchbook and some pens, typical.
As the largest family-run bookstore in the country owned across three generations of the Bass family, it’s the destination you need to visit if you want to find your next hidden treasure to delve deep into. A place where there’s something for everyone, and where even writers go to meet up and sell their work. A great example of a classic non-corporate bookstore thats stood the test of time, its not going anywhere anytime soon. Lets be thankful for that!