Friday, December 4, 2009

Save Left Bank Books

My fear is coming true. The Villager is reporting that Left Bank Books is set to vanish January 31, the same month Biography Books vanishes from this end of town. Is it possible that by February, the West Village will have only one independent bookstore? What happens when Three Lives' lives run out?



I wrote here about Left Bank in September, saying "With the coming takeover of the nearby Biography Bookshop space by Marc Jacobs and the closure of neighbor Lee's Laundry, my more or less consistent, low-grade concern about Left Bank Books has been goosed."

Now, The Villager says, "A hole-in-the-wall W. Fourth St. rare-books store will close Jan. 31, another victim of a landlord seeking the kind of higher rents and glitz that are killing what’s left of the small, independent stores and variety in the Village."

"Problems started when the new landlord inherited the building, between Bank and W. 12th Sts. According to reports, he has made trouble for a former cross-dressing show boy, now in his late 80s, whose taste is kitschy — fake flowers in flower boxes — but does favors for tenants in the building who are out all day. A tiny Chinese laundry that had been around for decades was given one month to leave."

Also see:
The Marc Jacobs Effect
Marc Jacobs Books
Left Bank Books Home

17 comments:

Bowery Boogie said...

it's just tragic.

Anonymous said...

i don't think wearing a t-shirt is going to save this book store. what can people really do? is there any way to get the landlord's name? mailing address? email address?

Jeremiah Moss said...

no, wearing a t-shirt won't help, but the sentiment on it could, if more people believed in it.

Mary said...

There's still Partners & Crime on Greenwich Avenue as an Independent Bookstore.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in WV, I often passed an apt, Bank & W. 4th. The windows were freshly Windexed. There was a window box, filled with blooming flowers. Wish JVNY would do reports on interiors, how real NYCers, not I-bankers or real estate bottom feeders, live. A cross dressing chorus boy in his 80's - that would be interesting. A story within a story within a story .....

Jeremiah Moss said...

i would love to meet and interview that 80-year-old chorus boy.

Tricia said...

As a 25+ year resident of the neighborhood, I'm sad but not at all surprised after witnessing the closing of Lee's laundry and talking with Mr. Lee. It's as if everything authentic in the West Village (and in particular Bleecker & West 4th Sts) is being chased out by cupcakes and designer clothes. It's about to get even more painful to walk down West 4th Street aka Marc Jacobs Way

Apt6C said...

The new tenants- Marc Jacobs and the cupcakes, are not to blame. As much as I hate chains, it's a red herring to villanize businesses for renting an available space. The landlords on the other hand have complete control over how much rent to charge.

Commercial landlords are therefore the most powerful people in the city. Why are they able to act anonymously? Who are the wizards behind the curtains and what processes allow them to manipulate the urban landscape unchecked?

I would love to see a village map in which every building is labeled with the owner's name. That would reveal the feudal-like control that a few landowners have over our futures.

Anonymous said...

J, if he's still there, try for an interview; in my memory, think he has blonde hair. BTW, at a Thanksgiving dinner, there were a number of ex-NYCers. They wanted to know what was going on. Told all about your blog; they must read it for truth about what's happening. No, I'm not trying to crash your site or whatever.

Curt said...

You can't keep the character of New York as long as they keep kicking out is characters.

Ed said...

"I would love to see a village map in which every building is labeled with the owner's name. That would reveal the feudal-like control that a few landowners have over our futures."

Completely agree with this.

What puzzles me is why rents, particularly commercial rents, keep going up in the bad economic climate.

I really thought a silver lining to the economic news was that New York would at least get a breather from supergentrification, but its really like the crash never happened here. I'd like to know why.

Anonymous said...

What Curt wrote should be on a T-shirt!

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Anon. i'll keep an eye out for the blonde!

David Freeland said...

Most unfortunate.

Doug said...

Jeremiah:

Although I live upstate I am an avid daily reader of your blog and share your despair over the disappearance of independent bookstores (well, independent everything); in New York City and everywhere else. I am a frequent visitor to the city and, for some time now, been photographing independent bookstores (including Left Bank). I think you will enjoy them: at the very least check out the picture of the Biography Bookstore. They can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44264791@N07/

Keep up the good work.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Doug--and nice shots. sadly, i think that's how we're going to see Left Bank soon, with the gates shut.

Anonymous said...

Yes - the guy you're talking about is tall, has blonde hair and has periodic "stoop sales." I don't imagine he's in his 80's - more like 70 or so.

w/re to Left Bank Books: how many pleasant hours have I spent there? I can't believe what the West Village has become. There used to be little junk shops around the neighborhood too, which long ago disappeared. How can we save the bookstore? The only think I can think of is if someone very wealthy were to run it as a not-for-profit, labor of love venture. Isn't anyone willing to do that? If not, I guess they prefer the overpriced clothing stores that have already taken over Bleecker Street. It seems like every time I walk out the door something I love has disappeared forever.