By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 16, 2002 01:00 AM

The man who starred in a sitcom about nothing is spending his days doing, well, you guessed it — and The New York Times charted his not doing it in an article for its Sunday edition.

First stop for Jerry Seinfeld, according to the newspaper, was a Starbucks near his Upper West Side apartment.

“Is that book over there from a library?” he asked, pointing to a volume on a table. “It’s got the plastic on it, and the Dewey decimal number. Wow! When was the last time you read a library book?”

Observers in the Starbucks may have been amazed to have the star in their midst, but Seinfeld, 48, was there also to observe — and, with a big article in The Times — to promote the October release of “Comedian.” The film is a documentary about his full-time return to the world of stand-up comedy and reveals the genuine pain that comes with having to develop fresh material.

“I’ll tell you how this started,” Seinfeld says. “I was working Boston or someplace. Adam Sandler was opening for me. It was 1993 or so, and I started to do this bit and someone out in the audience went, ‘Heard it!’ It was like someone throwing a spear in the balcony and it went right through my chest. Because you’re presenting your material like it’s all fresh and new and clever, and here’s this guy going, ‘Heard it!’ That was a moment of such intense pain. Just to avoid that ever happening again, I went through all of this.”

As for why he wants to revisit the pain, Seinfeld admitted to The Times that, yes, he’s really too rich to be bothered, but, he insisted (and whether he was speaking tongue-in-cheek is not clear): “It’s not about money any more, and it’s not about fame. Now, it’s just about maintaining a creative arc.”

“Comedian” opens in New York and Los Angeles Oct. 11 and in 20 more cities two weeks later.