Monday, January 24, 2011

Housing Works Book Shop (SoHo--NYC)

A Good Shop for A Good Cause

In the cold of December, one of my colleagues suggested that we take a field trip to a special book shop in the city. Housing Works Bookstore, located at 126 Crosby Street in the northern reaches of SoHo, is surely a unique place. My colleague Zack Lane had many great things to say about this place, and he was absolutely on track. Here is a link to the book shop:


But it is more than just a book shop, it is a book shop on steroids-- providing a healthy and robust program of social activism and assistance to people in need. To quote the website, one of Housing Works' many causes may be summed up in the following statement:

"The largest AIDS activist group in the U.S., Housing Works empowers clients, staff, volunteers and supporters to take action—from phone zaps to Congressional visits to street-side civil disobedience—on local, state, national and international AIDS issues. Read our Housing Works AIDS Issues Update blog, and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed and learn what you can do to help end AIDS."

As for the bookstore itself, it was quite a find in NY city, considering the number of bookshops which charge so much for used volumes--often far more than the books are actually worth.

There were various sections in the shop. One of the interesting things is that the classification is not that rigid, which some might say adds a certain sloppiness to the place. But on the flip side, it provides ample opportunity for biblio-searchers like myself to find some rare or simply magnificent finds. Now, even though I did not find anything on this trip--or rather, I did not "buy" anything on this trip--there were plenty of great books here.

In the front of the store there was a display case of rare and signed books. Above is a volume of "Every Man a King" (1933) by assassinated Louisiana Governor, Huey Long. It's on sale (and I believe up for auction) for ~$8,500.00, because Long signed it! In the back of the book shop there is a little cafe where readers and browsers can get a snack and some warm drinks on a cold winter evening, while reading their books. You can see most of the shop from the second tier balcony (see below), where I took this photo. It was a lovely experience, and if you're in the area, you should check it out. I did see on the bargain rack the complete writings of Aristotle for only $1! I didn't buy it, though. Many people think that other book stores in the city (including in Brooklyn) come to Housing Works and buy cheap books, then resell them elsewhere for greatly exaggerated prices! Either way, whatever it is you do, come on in and check the place out. It's definitely a must-visit.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating place and one where one might just be able to find that book one's been looking for forever!

  2. I thought they had a thrift shop, I wasn't aware of the bookstore. Thanks.