As with most facets of art in New York City, there are so many art bookstores — and there’s so little time to visit them all. With bookstores linked to galleries, galleries linked to bookstores, and everything in between, a refreshingly wide range of configurations turn the art book form into an invitation to fall down informational rabbit holes and seek out the unknown. I set out in search of a starting point to delve into this lattice of shops and found myself enchanted by the knowledge and curiosity of the city’s art bookstore teams, who’ve each had to expand and change to find their foothold in an unpredictable industry. Visiting five art bookstores across Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, I learned more about the process of growing their business, the art books and zines that inspire them, some customer favorites, and got a few summer reading recommendations, too.
Tucked away around the corner from the New Museum, a haven brims with zines, photo books, and printed materials that flexibly stretch the limits of genre without fitting into a single category. Director Shisi Huang launched the project in San Francisco with collaborators Xiao Yong and Nanxi Zhou in 2016 before settling into the current location in 2019, with Yong and Zhou opening another outpost in Beijing. Huang, herself an artist, told me that she sees Bungee Space as an opportunity to “create a constellation of everything” — passersby will often stop in for a coffee and soon find themselves leafing through hand-picked publications by artist collectives, a zany clothing selection, and affordable art prints available for purchase. The combined bookstore, coffee shop, exhibition corner, and retail clothing structure invites visitors to explore freely and