Southeast corner of Central Park
Every now and then I’ll bend my own rules enough to review a quirky kiosk, off-shoot, or library nook that sells books as opposed to a full fledged independent bookshop, and when I do I hope you know it’s because finding these little extras out there in the world will be very much worth your time. This outdoor “bookshop” is a satellite of the gargantuan and epic Strand Bookstore down near Union Square, but being so close to Central Park and its shaded benches, aromatic food trucks, and bright open skies reflected on rippling ponds, I wonder: is it possible that this kiosk is even better than the mothership?
Answer: No. But that’s only because Strand Bookshop is just too good. Even so, the tables and displays here offer incredible value for used and remaindered books. There are long tables with literary classics, recent bestsellers, academic collections, literary nonfic, essays, art books, children’s, memoir, biographies, philosophy, poetry, and much more. For just a handful of tables, the selection is impressive. I picked up a like-new copy of The Island in the Center of the World by Russell Shorto and it turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read all summer, and it was only a few dollars.
Along the row of tables by the clerk’s stand are two booths you can walk into with newer books, bigger art books, shirts and bags, magnets and postcards, pins and collectibles, travel guides, NYC-centric offerings, and other assorted literary deals. It really is a bite-sized experience of the Strand shop, but it will still keep you lingering, moving from one table to the next. I do love how you can buy a book here, walk into the park, and sit down to begin reading in the peaceful calm by the pond or along one of the winding paths in the shade or sun. Whether you’re just passing by or you go out of your way to visit, you won’t be disappointed in the selection or value at the Strand kiosk.
Atmosphere — An outdoor bookshop with tables and displays full of discounted books just seconds away from a relaxing park bench.
Quality — There are some clearly used books in the piles here but most are in fine or like-new shape, and most are half price at least.
Quantity — You’ll find plenty of books here despite just having a few tables and booths.
Diversity — For a small kiosk they cover a lot of ground, from throwback nonfiction to new bestsellers.
Affordability — You’ll find plenty of deals here, with discounted and half-priced books galore.
Amenities — You’re moments away from a dozen food trucks and the wilds of Central Park, so there’s plenty of extras nearby.
Location — You can’t miss their tables at the southeast corner of the park, just north of all the food trucks.
Customer Service — The one clerk was happy to help, but for the most part you’re free to browse.
Overall — This is a wonder addition to the experience of going to Central Park to take a breather from the hustle and bustle. The books are plentiful, affordable, and diverse. This kiosk is nearly as legendary as the mother store.