The Seine may be an ocean away, but a little piece of Parisian culture can be found in the West Village.
Left Bank Books, which opened in the Village in the early 1990s before closing in 2016, has been revived by former booksellers at the original used bookstore.
“We opened this brick and mortar as a new iteration of a pre-existing bookshop,” says Erik DuRon, who opened the shop with Jess Kuronen.
DuRon is a seasoned rare and antiquarian bookseller. He previously managed Bauman Rare Books in midtown before a stint at the old Left Bank. When that closed, he spent some time freelancing in the rare books world.
DuRon and Kuronen, a graphic designer who worked at Left Bank while studying art at Cooper Union, stayed in touch, discussing opening their own bookshop one day.
In early 2017, the duo revitalized Left Bank, legally using the name under a new LLC, and launched an online bookshop.
“We wanted to move away from the model of a neighborhood used bookshop that sustained itself with cheap paperbacks, retain that DNA, but sort of flip it a little,” DuRon says. “We envisioned the re-imagined Left Bank as a hybrid of used, rare and vintage, and we would put a stronger emphasis on collectible and rare books.”
This fresh update led to a business plan, an investor with a generous loan rate and a lease back in the West Village, with Left Bank opening at the end of March 2019.
The selection caters to creatives, with an emphasis on titles dedicated to artsy topics like fashion, photography, design and film.
The tightly curated selection is “pleasingly arranged” so that visitors have to browse, engage their curiosity and experience “serendipitous” book finds, DuRon says.
Left Bank is named for the left bank of the Seine, but also channels the Village’s cultural and artistic heritage, which was reminiscent of bohemian Paris in the 1930s-’60s.
“We buy books that fit demographics emblematic of the time in which they were produced,” DuRon says. “We model ourselves off the small, specialty bookshops in Paris, which are focused on one genre or time. Paris is a real book city.”
The result is a “gem” for the neighborhood, DuRon says.
“There are number of good new and used bookshops, but certainly far less than there used to be,” DuRon says. “We fill a niche; there wasn’t the type of rare and collectible bookshop that we envisioned.”
- Left Bank tries to stock something for everybody, ranging from vintage paperbacks and classic pulp novels priced at $8 to a $15,000 Andy Warhol first edition. Most of the inventory is priced in the low- to mid-hundreds.
- The oldest book Left Bank has is from the 1600s. But most of the collection is from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a number of first editions from the 19th century, including Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and some Emily Dickinson.
- Titles about Greenwich Village sell faster than anything else. Fashion photography and “good modern literature” like Virginia Woolf are also best sellers.
- Left Bank is located at 41 Perry St. For more info, visit leftbankbooksny.com.