Getting Lost at The Strand


New York City’s The Strand bookstore is one of the world’s great literary institutions. For literary pilgrims, The Strand is a destination akin to Shakespeare and Company in Paris or Powell’s in Portland. Now, The Strand is modernizing. Many of its quirks, like its mandatory bag check, have been eliminated while novelties, like lollipops and socks, are expanded. And perhaps more disheartening has been the recent removal of a large number of shelves to create space for flattop retail tables that sell a higher volume books, often at a higher price. Removing those shelves has meant shrinking some of the less popular niche sections like music, dance, and Americana. Modernization has also made finding books easier, as The New Yorker explores, but might mean losing some of the essence of The Strand, those eight miles of books readers could lose themselves in.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →