At first glance, it may not seem particularly remarkable. The walls are lined with shelves of books and there's comfortable lighting and chairs for those interested in perusing just like 99% of all other bookstores in the world. But if you're anyone who cares deeply for the art of theater, what might seem mundane to an outside can feel a bit like Willy Wonka's factory. Pure imagination does in fact line the walls of The Drama Book Shop, as the beloved institution houses perhaps the most extensive collection of plays and theatrical texts in New York. Whether you're a fan searching for that next play to read or an actor aspiring to see your name in the nearby Broadway lights one day, the shop has you covered.
Likely the only bookstore you'll ever find that's received a Tony Award for its contributions to the Broadway community, the store is truly a pillar of New York theater. Between hosting talks from playwrights and artists, regular celebrity shoppers, and housing a theater space that has offered refuge to developing artists, almost everyone involved with New York theater is connected to the store. Look no further then when a burst water pipe threatened the store's survival and none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, who developed his first show in the theater space, led a massive movement to help keep it in business. As you can likely tell this place isn't so much of a bookstore as a collective of theatrical souls that just so happens to have a lot of books to sell.
The place became a regular haunt for me while I was a student at NYU, enrolled in a playwriting course that required us read one play a week. Rather than rely on the NYU bookstore or Amazon, I found myself following a friends recommendation and taking a weekly pilgrimage to the shop. With almost every major play waiting for me, I'd quickly grab that week's reading before spending 95% percent of my time there browsing to my hearts content. And give yourself plenty of time to browse because you never know if you'll discover an obscure edition or an autographed copy covertly waiting for you on the shelves.
While it may not offer the razzle-dazzle spectacle of a Broadway musical, for those interested in exploring the heart of New York theater, look no further. Whether it's the shoppers looking for their fix or the helpful staff of experienced theater professionals, The Drama Book Shop isn't just a place to shop but to have your passions nurtured. No matter how wicked it may seem on the streets of New York, if you're open to the power of theater, you'll find no place that feels so much like home.