Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not Just One Less Bookstore

I knew la Librairie de France was possibly one of the last remaining French-language bookstores in New York City, but I didn't know it was the last French-language bookstore in the entire United States.

And it's going to close in 2009.

Here's the notice they gave to me a few days ago:


After 74 years at this same location, as the oldest and only remaining
retail tenant of Rockefeller Center from 1935, our lease will expire in 2009. Because of overwhelming New York City rents, especially those on Fifth Avenue--approximately $1,000 a square foot, and projected even higher in 2009--it will be financially impossible for us to continue at that time.

Although many of our customers assume that we are a subsidized French government entity, ours is an independently operated third-generation family-owned bookstore with no financial support whatsoever.

It has been a great experience. In 1935, we were invited to be the first
tenants in La Maison Francaise. During the Second World War, we published more than 200 works of French authors exiled from 1940-1945 in the United States. Our bookstore was a vibrant center of French cultural production and is the only French bookstore in the country.

You may wish to take advantage of our extensive selection of books on sale, as well as rare books on our lower level. [MD: You certainly do! I bought Marcel Proust's letters to Andre Gide--who knew?--there a couple days ago.]

To you across the United States and abroad who have supported us throughout almost a century, we extend our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. You make every workday a pleasure. We are going to miss you when it is over.

Vachement sucky news. Go as much as you can in 2008 to stock up on books other than in English. The woman in the fabulous basement told me all of the other foreign-language bookstores have gone under, as well, so get ready for a dull desert of mono-language in NYC/US.



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