What to Expect at the Upper West Side’s New Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore and Cafe


Photo by Sharoni.

Shakespeare & Co. bookstore is coming back to the Upper West Side, setting up shop at 2020 Broadway between 69th and 70th Street, in the space previously occupied by Albertina’s Fine Foods, and before that by Tani Shoes. The company just put its name on the windows, with a “coming soon” logo. They previously told us they expect to open in the fourth quarter of this year.

It’s a homecoming for the store, which closed its location on 81st Street in 1996 amid competition from Barnes & Noble. The store has been bought by a holding company with a new strategy. It has a location on the East Side next to Hunter College. Here are a few things to expect:

The new Shakespeare & Co. will have a cafe, which has won high praise from some people, though some say it’s expensive. “There is a little crafts area in the back for kids, a cafeteria where you can sip coffee and have a sandwich, sit near the windows and enjoy the views or chomp down the beat tasting almond croissants overflowing with filling (the main reason I keep coming back.),” wrote one Yelper. The cafe will have free wi-fi.

The store will be about 3,000 square feet, with fiction, nonfiction and children’s sections. It will also have an “Espresso Book Machine”, which can literally print books while you wait. There are about 7 million titles the machines can print, most of them in the public domain. It will be interesting to see if people purchase those books when they can get many public domain books on their Kindles or other e-readers for free. (The experience of reading a printed book is very different of course.)

The store can also print authors’ books while they wait, so if you have a novel or poetry book that never got published, it can be printed right in the store. A 150-page book costs $15 to print, the store’s website says.

Shakespeare & Co. can also personalize children’s books, where children can insert their name and picture in a book.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 36 comments | permalink
    1. This is the best news I’ve heard in a while. Can’t wait for them to come back. Congratulations!!!

    2. Doug Garr says:

      I hope it’s better run than the last one. I moved to the UWS just when it was closing and B&N was moving in around 2000. Shakespeare had terrible service and full retail prices. B&N had lounge chairs, discounts, and sales help that took you to the bookshelf to find whatever it was you were looking for. I don’t mind supporting local booksellers and paying full price — right now that’s Books of Culture on Amsterdam. I can find the coffee at Starbucks.

      • Christian says:

        “‘Books of Culture’ on Amsterdam.” That says it all.

        • JVHS says:

          What? The store “Book Culture” is at 450 Columbus Ave (west side of street) between 81/82.

      • Cato says:

        — “B&N had lounge chairs, discounts, and sales help that took you to the bookshelf to find whatever it was you were looking for.”

        Yes, but then Shakespeare and other local bookstores closed because they couldn’t compete with the corporate behemoth. The lounge chairs largely disappeared, the discounts completely disappeared, and the remaining “sales help” will help you find something *if* he isn’t busy at the moment. (The computerized “find it yourself on a map” system helped, but of course (a) often didn’t work and (b) was removed.)

        Bottom line: B&N killed the competition, and then had no reason to care about customers. It will be nice to have a bookstore that — I hope — does.

      • Norma Kramer says:

        All true, but as soon as B&N knocked out all competition they removed all seating. Typical corporate behavior, ruin the little guys then lower your own amenities !

      • Julia says:

        At Starbucks you pay more than full price for coffee. Save your money by buying cheaper coffee, not cheaper books!

      • Independent says:

        “I moved to the UWS just when it was closing and B&N was moving in around 2000.”

        According to the article, Shakespeare & Co. closed in ’96. Which is the correct date? The last time I was in the store may have been no later than ’91.

    3. Book Fan says:

      Best opening/closing news in a while–usually this section is so depressing! Can’t wait for this to open.
      PS Shakespeare & Co., if you’re reading this, please do storytimes for kids

    4. Beverly says:

      Starbucks for coffe
      Library for books

    5. kucette says:

      Great that an old timer is returning to the west side the home of the book readers who like the tactile feel of a book and good almond pastries.

    6. Karen Korman says:

      Excited to see bookstores returning…always good news

    7. Michael Brand says:

      Please keep me informed by e-mail.
      Thank you,
      Michael Brand

    8. Phyllis Melhado says:

      So wonderful. As both a writer and a reader, I am thrilled!

    9. XUpperWest says:

      I found Shakespeare to be arrogant and expensive. When Barnes and Noble opened their first store in the neighborhood on the East side of Broadway, their staff was far more courteous and helpful, and you didn’t have to check your bags and get a playing card to identify your belongings when leaving. Plus, the prices were at least 10% lower at B+N.

      • Independent says:

        Do you have a better way that Shakespeare & Co. could have prevented shoplifting?

        B&N, being a big chain, could absorb more such loss (back in the day, at least). And even so, I would be rather surprised if B&N didn’t have some system in place of their own.

    10. Sally says:

      Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!!!

    11. Shirley says:

      Shakespeare & Co.! Welcome back to the neighborhood!We missed you-!Can’t wait!

    12. Cato says:

      What on earth are “beat tasting almond croissants”?? Should that be “beet” tasting (in which case “yuck”)?

      And why would you “chomp [them] down”, whatever they are? That really sound unappetizing, and a bit gross.

    13. Rick says:

      What wonderful news. So much better than yet an overpriced clothing store.

    14. Amy says:

      Yippee!

    15. Betsy Wade says:

      For us, this will be a huge benefit. They might even have a modest, carefully curated used bookshelf.

    16. David Jensen says:

      How is this related to the original Shakespeare and Company in Paris,in spirit as well as in amenities?

      The Paris store was a meeting place for top writers. It was also furnished with easy chairs, which were rarely found in bookstores.

    17. OldTimerUWS says:

      I don’t know if a holding company buying a brand name is the same as the return of an old local store, but it will certainly be marketed that way.

      • Independent says:

        @ OldTimerUWS, #17:

        Excellent comment. Incisive and a terseness that I can only envy.

    18. Sarah says:

      The Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge credits a lot of its survival to a similar print-on-demand device. Of course, that’s a far more scholarly neighborhood.

    19. Leslie says:

      This is the best news. This part of the upper west side needs a small independent bookstore to make it feel like
      How the neighborhood use to be before all the big box stores took over. I will always pay full price for a book. In comparison to other costs in our life, isn’t it worth it?
      I hope this is a trend for the future of our neighborhood.

    20. Pedestrian says:

      Bravo!

    21. Denton says:

      This is good news. Wish they would ditch the coffee tho. Bookselling is an inventory game, the more books you have, the greater the chance of a customer finding what they are looking for.

      • dannyboy says:

        It is an inventory gabe, but not inventory quantity. Like most businesses it’s having what people want (or introducing books that people will want).

        I hate to say the word, but…curating.

    22. Linda Beech says:

      Wonderful news! Am so happy that bookstores are returning to the UWS.

    23. Elena says:

      Hurray! Will visit often,

    24. Ponald Pump says:

      Albertina’s Fine Foods was one of the most absurd fiascos in modern recorded history.