McNally Jackson Bookstore

My first experience at an independent bookstore was a heart-warming one. I walked into McNally Jackson Books on a cold spring day—yes, cold—after grabbing a bagel at Russ and Daughters. At first, I did not know what kind of treasure I had stumbled upon, but after a couple hours of browsing, I yearned for a similar place close to home.

McNally Jackson Books is one of the roughly two thousand independent bookstores left in America. In a time when frugality is held dear and wholesalers attract hordes of customers, independent bookstores rely on a few humanistic aspects to keep their doors from shuttering. McNally Jackson Books succeeds at creating a community atmosphere and maintaining a cozy store in order to stay in business.

Their book selection is quite diverse and can satisfy most curious passerby. However, McNally Jackson Books’ more redeeming qualities are its quirky bathroom, attractive café and expansive selection of New York City related books.

McNally Jackson Books’ bathroom is plastered with a woodsy background. All three sides of the wall—the bathroom is triangular shaped—depict trees and the serene outdoors. The bathroom even includes a motion-activated speaker that chirps and emits ambient noises found in nature. Previous customers have even engraved their signature and heart signs on the walls, similar to how a tree is engraved with signatures and heart signs.

The cafe includes a plethora of quality breads and á la carte foods. The store gets the bread from local bakeries Balthazar, Sage and Jae & Ess. Also, the café offers a vareity of exotic drinks such as full-flower chamomile tea and “Fizzy Lizzy.” Of course, the café offers free wi-fi.

McNally Jackson Books’ has a large, enclosed space full of cook books—much to my delight. They also carry a large selection of Moleskines, New York City tourism-related books and many popular and literary magazines.

Visiting McNally Jackson Books was a nice change from the repetitive trips I take to Barnes Nobles when I am at home. The independent bookstore emanated a more homey feel than chain stores. The small walking room and walls packed with books was comforting, unlike the high-top ceilings and rows of best-seller books found at wholesalers.

Unfortunately, independent bookstores are slowly fading into the past. As electronics means for accessing books and chain stores continue to grow, independent bookstores take a back seat in the book sales business. The only way independent bookstores are to survive is by focusing on what they do best—creating communities and acting as a second home to customers. Independent bookstores must continue hosting events such as book signings, book club meetings and other social activities in order to maintain a strong following of customers. While wholesalers such as Borders and Barnes Nobles may have cheaper prices, they do not share the same face-to-face experience that independent booksellers have. It is the interpersonal connections that are made at independent bookstores that bolster stores like McNally Jackson Books.

McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince St.
New York, NY 10012

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

15. May 2010 von Earl
Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | 4 comments

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