And there are some, while not being any of those, are even more magical because of their intimacy. You can't explain it, but it feels as though somehow every book on the shelves have been placed for you to reach over to grasp; it's absurd, but it feels like it was designed for you.
Argosy is that place for me in New York.
I found the place by pure fortune; I was hurrying across midtown, but stopped after seeing a copy of Susan Sontag's book of essays for a dollar amongst the shelves of book outside.
I stepped inside to pay only a dollar for a cheap paperback. I left almost an hour later with that paperback, an antique French map of Belgium, and a first edition print of Aldous Huxley's "Eyeless in Gaza."
The store is not terribly impressive, but absolutely charming in its humble appearance. It looks a bit like a college library in the movies with creaky old furniture, musky old books, green lamps, and staff wearing tweed jackets and glasses. The varied and very impressive collection is much more organized (and reachable!) than in Westsider Books, though it doesn't have the same "from floor to ceiling" feel. The little quirk is the old ship model hanging from the ceiling near the middle of the store-- one that looks exactly like the logo.
They also have some gorgeous prints for sale. I knew I was overpaying for my map of Belgium ($10) with no date or mention from where its from, but I was so impressed at how the lady explained how the font and the coloring of the paper would suggest it being from the early 1900s and no later than 1915, that I bought it with no complaints.
I left the store incredibly happy just knowing that I just bought a beautiful and well preserved first edition print of Huxley (one of my favorite authors)'s "Eyeless in Gaza" (printed 1936) for a bargain.
I can't really explain what appeals to me so much about the store, other than that unlike any other bookstore, I don't want to find that one treasure, but I'm convinced that everything in the store is perfect as is and waiting for me.
I can't wait to go back. There's still so many more books left.