Of all the legendary secondhand bookstores that once lined Fourth Avenue, there is but one spiritual descendant, and it’s straight out of central casting: the Alabaster Bookshop, which has faded carpets, a resident cat, and even a vintage lamp whose base is a stylized stack of tomes. Though just around the corner from the Strand, the Alabaster is in many ways far, far afield—there’s certainly no one to insist you check your bag, no souvenir T-shirts, no calendars. (Not that the Strand isn’t wonderful in its own way, but some days you’re just not in the mood for 18 miles of books.) The stock is eclectic, to say the least: On the shelves outside, there’s a remarkably good selection of hardcovers for $2, with the level of scholarship ranging from Jane Fonda’s My Life So Far to Will and Ariel Durant’s The Age of Reason Begins. Inside, the old-fashioned wooden shelves provide a home for everyone from Clifford Odets to L. Ron Hubbard.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 25, 2008