If you are looking for a cozy, shop-around-the-corner bookstore, do not, under any circumstances, take the 1 train to Columbus Circle, turn on Broadway, and walk down West 57th Street. If, however, you are an art aficionado, a fashionista, European, or would like to be some combination of the above, you most certainly should consider taking the trip to Rizzoli Bookstore.
The physical building itself is actually worth the ride. Yet, even its aesthetically pleasing window displays don’t prepare patrons for the visual feast awaiting them on the other side of its heavy doors. Rizzoli’s books sit on wooden shelves, which perfectly complement the staircase’s railing. There are chandeliers on every floor, and the molding on the ceilings is strikingly beautiful. As one employee explained, Rizzoli is home to “enjoyable architecture.” Her co-worker agreed that it’s a “pretty place.” If Rizzoli didn’t actually sell anything, it would be worth going there anyway.
Rizzoli does, however, have plenty to sell. It is an Italian-language bookstore (complete with Italian-speaking customers), featuring plenty of Italian books, European periodicals, and a well stocked travel section. Calling it only an Italian-language bookstore, however, would be like calling Italy only the land where the Romans once ruled. True? Yes. Complete picture? Absolutely not.
As a Rizzoli employee noted, “We have a lot of books about fashion, design, and art.” But the store’s wares don’t end there: an entire section houses works relating to religion, a substantial music section sells appealing alternatives to Top 40 hits, and yet another portion of the store offers a well stocked but idiosyncratic space for DVDs.
The only seating is in the back of the third floor (in the children’s section), and they don’t sell coffee, but the service is personable, and going to Rizzoli does make for “more of an enjoyable shopping experience,” as the saying goes.
True, you won’t be able to curl up with a book. But who ever curled up with the complete collection of Michelangelo’s works, anyway?