At the very tip of McCarren Park, in Greenpoint, on a block that has a Starbucks and an overpriced luxury-apartment eyesore, sits a nondescript, three-story building. It belongs to Bill Hall, the 60-year-old proprietor of High Valley Books, who runs the appointment-only shop from his family’s home. The old-school gem has arguably the most robust private collection of vintage magazines, art books, and other printed matter in New York City.

In the building’s parlor and basement, Hall has 50,000-plus items for visitors to peruse and purchase. Customers can book appointments only via landline (Hall doesn’t own a cell phone) or through Instagram direct message.

The first floor resembles a showroom, with windows offering a view of the park and a flood of natural light that spotlights Hall’s recent and pricier acquisitions, which are displayed on floating shelves and timeworn Eames cupboards. There are highly sought-after issues of Six, Comme des Garçon’s publication; first-edition Christian Dior monographs; and MoMA catalogues from the 60s, as well as art-world rarities, such as Crafts of the Weimar Bauhaus, 1919–1924.

Hall has been collecting vintage books and magazines since the 1990s.

His basement is filled with rows of dusty metal shelving units that are packed with titles that nearly touch the low ceilings. One can find 1920s issues of Vogue (as well as hundreds of international Vogue editions from the 1960s through the 2000s) and the first 150 issues of The Face to 19th- and 20th-century books on graphic design, architecture, and science. There are rare artist monographs, a complete set of Abercrombie & Fitch’s “Back to School” catalogues shot by Bruce Weber, and back issues of nearly every culture rag imaginable. There’s a whole shelf dedicated to books on plastic surgery, all of which Hall bought from a former cosmetic-surgery correspondent for Allure.

Even before Hall started High Valley Books, in 1999, his career centered around sourcing vintage print media, particularly items rarely found at newsstands or bookstores. Hall, who moved to New York City in the 90s, worked as a book scout for dealers and collectors who sold to “really interesting clients in fashion, graphic design, interior design, and architecture,” as he tells me. When one of his employers retired, he gave Hall around 600 books and magazines to sell on consignment. They were “beautiful books of rare photography, 60s and 70s Italian Vogue, a complete education from this one library. [It] also jump-started my whole thing.”

Hall always wanted High Valley Books to be “a place where people in the visual arts could go for inspiration.”

Hall stored the budding collection in his former apartment, near Peter Luger, in Williamsburg, and scheduled appointments from interested buyers—though, back then, visitors were “infrequent.” He printed catalogues and pamphlets to advertise his business and mailed them to booksellers, interior designers, and fashion archivists around New York City. For years, Hall mostly sold his collection online, through a crudely designed Web site.

Then, in 2009, he and his family moved to the apartment that High Valley Books operates from today. Around that time, Hall realized that Web sites such as Amazon and AbeBooks, as well as the development of ISBN scanners, increased competition by enabling anyone to be an online bookseller. But those online retailers were “horrible to dealers” because of high transaction fees and restrictions on direct conversations between buyers and independent sellers. Hall also noticed that few merchants dedicated their businesses to vintage magazines “with the same consideration as rare books and art books.” He decided to focus on glossies. “I could move into this niche, which also fit with what I wanted to be: a place where people in the visual arts could go for inspiration.”

Hall has never owned a cell phone.

As Hall’s archive grew throughout the aughts, his business existed mostly online, even though he listed only “about a tenth” of his cache. Stylists, graphic designers, academics, and culture obsessives who lived in Greenpoint would occasionally visit his house to see his collection and recommend it to friends.

Towards the end of the pandemic, Hall says, in-store visits began to boom. Now appointments are booked every hour he’s open, typically one p.m. to six p.m. on Thursdays through Mondays. The shift, he says, is because his family moved to the building’s top two floors, which gave him an extra floor to showcase his expanding stock. Plus, Hall’s two daughters grew older, which afforded him more time to focus on the shop and welcome more customers. Most importantly, his kids helped him set up the High Valley Books Instagram account and taught him how to use it on an iPad, as he still has no interest in buying a cell phone.

The basement of Hall’s building is filled with thousands of books and magazines.

When visitors are done browsing, Hall takes a photo of them and their acquisitions to post on Instagram. The account’s feed consists almost entirely of these souvenir-like snapshots. Only rarely will Hall post images of newly acquired titles or unearthed treasures. Social media has undeniably spiked awareness of High Valley Books. In early May, for example, Addison Rae visited with a photographer friend. Hall had no idea who she, a TikToker with 88.8 million followers, even was.

Now, 25 years after starting High Valley Books, Hall says it’s finally “grown into its own organic thing.… The whole [operation] is very potent.”

“Bill has come into possession of Mary Poppins’s actual never-ending bag,” says Jacob Sheppard, a book buyer at London’s Idea Ltd. “It is so rare to buy something you didn’t even know you were looking for—that’s why you need dealers like Bill to find it for you.”

Photographer David Brandon Geeting, who has shot for publications including GQ and New York magazine, as well as brands such as Bottega Veneta and Helmut Lang, visited High Valley Books on his birthday this year. He bought several magazines, including a 1987 issue of The Face with Pee-wee Herman on the cover. Geeting describes Hall as “unfussy and approachable” and says High Valley Books is a place where a “true sense of discovery is likely to be had by everyone who walks in the door.”

“Bill has come into possession of Mary Poppins’s actual never-ending bag.”

“This is the type of experience that cannot be had online.”

That might be one of the reasons Hall has noticed his customers are getting “younger and younger.” People are sick of scrolling and seeing the same images, both new and archival, pop up on their feeds. High Valley Books is a real-life mood board and resource that encourages exploration, a stark contrast to what people are fed by algorithms. “I was an anachronism,” he says. “Now I’m the future.”

Zach Sokol is a writer, editor, and photographer whose work has appeared in Vice, High Times, Playboy, Penthouse, i-D, Rolling Stone, and other publications