Village Voice Best of 2011

Village voice best of New York: Best Used Bookstore: East village Books

The year’s most heroic bookseller has to be East Village Books owner Donald Davis. In September 2011, a NYPL Battery Park librarian confronted a sketchy patron trying to steal books, ostensibly to trade for cash at used bookstores. The would-be thief dropped his bag and ran, leaving behind a bookmark from this shop. Librarians alerted Davis, so the next time the scammer showed up at East Village Books, the unassuming proprietor pinned the suspect to the ground until the cops came. Not only does this make a good short story, but it’s a fitting compliment to the store’s unsung strengths: The atmosphere is personal, transactions feel honest, the owner’s dedication is resolute. For example, although the shop specializes in getting stock from estate sales and scholarly collections, the business, by all accounts, pays good money for its acquisitions. And the shelves span many levels of taste, from a $7 hardcover copy of Don Delillo’s Underworld to a thick Sonic Youth biography for $3 and DVDs that range from Faces of Death IV ($10) to Maysles Films’ 5 Films About Christo and Jeanne-Claude ($68 used here; $139.50 used on Amazon). What, you live in Murray Hill and only carry plastic? There’s always the Strand. 99 St. Mark’s Place, 212-477-8647, (10009)