Left Bank Books was, for twenty-four years, solidly part of Greenwich Village’s literary scene until it closed its doors in 2016. Then, after a two-year stint as a uniquely virtual shop, owners Erik DuRon and Jess Kuronen will be hanging a shingle once again, this time at 41 Perry Street, rejoining the West Village community.
When asked why they chose to reopen Left Bank Books, Kuronen felt there was no other option. “It seemed like the natural progression,” she explained. When it was winding down, we made a pact: Let's do the next thing together. We saw what went wrong [in the previous store] and saw the things we could do better.”
DuRon has worked in the book world in different capacities, at publishing houses, libraries, and in the rare and antiquarian book trade in Manhattan and Prague. No matter where he’s been, DuRon has always found himself drawn to “the way [words and images] interact in a physical artifact of the book—something not reproducible in a digital format or digital environment.”
The new Left Bank will sell fine and used books with a focus on photography, fine arts, film, poetry, and novels, a sensible selection considering Kuronen’s degree in fine arts from Cooper Union and a childhood spent hanging around artist presses run by her mother, Rebecca Michaels.
Still, at approximately 300 square feet, the Perry Street outpost will require DuRon and Kuronen to be deliberate with their stock. “We are hand selecting every book to create a visual rare book environment akin to an art gallery or a book fair,” says DuRon. In essence, Left Bank will present a highly curated experience. Plans for in-store exhibitions are also in the works.
Though many indie bookstores have closed in Manhattan due to rising rents, big-box competitors, and online shopping, DuRon explains that bookshops are starting to make a comeback in the East Village but a similar movement hasn’t quite happened in the West Village. DuRon and Kuronen see their bookshop as filling that cultural void.
The duo is excited about working directly with the public again and seeing what offbeat curios customers bring in to sell. “There is nothing more exciting than seeing a book that you don’t know,” DuRon enthused. They look forward to expanding their clientele to include “people who don’t think of themselves as collectors but respond viscerally to the material.”
DuRon and Kuronen hope that this version of Left Bank will stick, because, as DuRon put it, “bookshops are the soul of the city.”
DuRon and Kuronen will preview a selection of their stock at the upcoming Greenwich Village Book and Ephemera Fair February 16-17, 2019