I’m heading to New York next week, and since I don’t live in a country which has Japanese bookstores I’m keen to try out what NYC has to offer. I saw there’s a Kinokuniya and a Book Off. Has anyone been to them? And are there any other shops in NYC you would recommend? Thanks
I have! Went years ago, but as I recall they were both bigger than I expected, and had tons of books. They were pretty close together too, within walking distance. Would love to go back some day.
I live in the NYC area so I go to these shops occasionally. Kinokuniya and Book-Off are close to each other so it’s convenient to stop at both. However, their NYC stores mainly focus on selling English-language stuff. (Or at least that’s how it seems in comparison to their branches in Japan)
Book-Off keeps all their JP materials (novels, nonfiction, manga) in the basement. Their shelves aren’t always well organized and books can end up in the wrong sections, so if you have time you might as well look through that whole small basement. I spied on your Natively profile and saw some 東野圭吾 books — I’ve seen lots of his novels at that Book-Off, if you want to pick up a few more cheaply.
Kinokuniya also keeps most of their Japanese books in the basement, including novels, children’s books, magazines, and nonfiction. However, manga and light novels are upstairs on the 2nd floor. The light novels are in a small section at the end of the JP manga area. Kinokuniya’s prices have a markup and are more expensive than the listed price in yen, but if you’re just browsing random stuff and only want to buy 1 or 2 books that you’ll read immediately, the Kinokuniya price is cheaper than ordering a small quantity online and paying international shipping.
Depending on what else you’re interested in, it might be worth heading to the St. Marks Place area, because it’s become something of a hub for Japanese restaurants and assorted shops. There are a few cosmetics shops selling drugstore products from Japan, and a Muji nearby. A few blocks away to the east, there’s a tiny stationery store called nico neco zakkaya with a small but well-curated selection.
Amazing thank you for such a detailed response, that’s super helpful!
I went to the Bookoff a few years ago and was very disappointed in their selection. They had pretty much no manga that I had interest in. Their novel selection was slightly better, but still not great.
I also went to Kinokuniya, which unsurprisingly had a better selection since they’re selling new, not used. If you want something relatively well known and recent, they will probably have it.
In either case, it can’t hurt to look though.
I think basilsauce gave a great breakdown, the only thing I’ll add is that the second floor of Kinokuniya has both English and Japanese manga, so if you go upstairs and just see English books, you’re not in the wrong place, just keep walking further down!
Also want to note that the exchange rate is ridiculous right now, which generally makes buying in “yen” a lot more attractive than “dollars.”
Not book-related, but if I recall correctly the Kinokuniya also has a small cafe upstairs and sells some Japanese food (onigiri, bento, katsusando, some sweets as well)
NOT in Manhattan, but if you don’t mind going out of your way, Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey, also has a Kinokuniya as well as a large Japanese grocery and a bunch of Japanese gift and food stores. I haven’t been in over 15 years, but this youtuber did a walk-through of the place last year and you can get an idea from that. It’s about 30-40 minutes by car or bus from midtown Manhattan.
If going out of your way is OK and you like to eat, there’s also Industry City’s Japan Village, in Brooklyn. It has a bunch of Japanese food stalls, a Sunrise Mart with Japanese groceries, and maybe some pop-up stuff that changes seasonally. A new Book-Off recently opened there. The advertising said this Book-Off would specialize in anime, manga, and related goods, but I haven’t yet been there myself to see. This branch may not carry manga in Japanese so I don’t recommend making a special trip in hopes of finding Japanese books. The food stalls are probably the main attraction.
Industry City is an easy (but not short) one-line subway ride from the midtown Manhattan Kinokuniya, on the D, N, or R lines. It’s near the Sunset Park area, which also has a Chinatown neighborhood.
I’ve only gone once or twice because even though it’s fairly close to my home, the way the train lines are arranged here, it’s easier for me to go into Manhattan for anything I want.
I love how the last photo on their website is pretty much entirely Love Live figurines. Maybe I’m wrong, but I would not have expected the overlap of people who are Love Live fans, people who like to buy figurines, and people who live in / visit NYC to be big enough for that to be profitable.