The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination & Prophecy, Walter B. Gibson & Litzka R. Gibson
EDITOR IN CHIEF MELISSA JONES CELEBRATES THE RETURN OF A BELOVED BOOK STORE.
In 2002, I moved from my own apartment in Hell’s Kitchen into my then-boyfriend, now-husband's bachelor pad on Perry Street in the West Village. The apartment was a gorgeous studio in a brownstone facing an inner courtyard with a church and garden. I had just started an indie record label (Audika Records) and we happily ate lobster on the floor. As die-hard, young New Yorkers we didn’t have space for a dining table so we opted for cooler memories instead.
The West Village at the time was ever-so-charming; with the first Marc Jacobs boutique on our corner block, pre-BookMarc, Mens, Kids, Marc by Marc, and pre-the-sad-demise-of-them-all. It was pre-tourist bus loads lining up for photo-ops on Carrie Bradshaw’s West Village tv stoop from Sex and The City, pre-Magnolia cupcakes, and for Markus and I, it was pre-marriage, pre-careers and pre-the-rest-of-our-lives.
One of our favorite spots to visit was LEFT BANK BOOKS, on West 4th between Bank Street and 12th Street. Markus, a writer and fierce collector of first editions, could never walk past it without going in - which meant we were there often.
Over the years, watching the struggle of all the independent shops in the village, like Kim’s Video, Geminola and the African collectables shop was difficult. Why couldn’t these awesome pillars of the neighborhood stay in their spaces? We needed them!
LEFT BANK BOOKS was one that had to move several times, but every time it closed its doors, we were always so thankful to see it pop up again soon after, in a new spot still in the West Village locale. Eventually, as with many other businesses in the neighborhood, fraught with raising rents and the internet, in 2016 Left Bank closed its doors. But then...
Ian Fleming, James Bond First Edition Series
Enter Erik DuRon and Jess Kuronen to save the day! Both previously having worked at the old Left Bank, they decided to buy the store from the owner and re-launch it as an awesome online bookshop, featuring a super-curated, amazing collection of art books, collectables, inspiring reads, and all the weird and wonderful in print.
In addition to a great online shop, the new LEFT BANK BOOKS is now in a charming new little brick and mortar space - guess where - in the old Geminola spot, right next door to our first apartment on Perry Street, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
On my first visit to the new LEFT BANK BOOKS, I found:
1) A TownGas publication, from my childhood growing up in Hong Kong - a utilities company the equivalent of ConEdison in New York, that used to publish books on Chinese cuisine;
2) A book from the 1970s that I have since been unable to put down that teaches divination and prophecy techniques called The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination & Prophecy, by Walter B. Gibson & Litzka R. Gibson; and
3) Within less than a week, owner Erik DuRon tracked down a copy of this rare NOVA magazine coffee table book I have been looking for, and unable to find, no joke, for over 10 years.
So it’s safe to say that with the re-launch of the new Left Bank, I am one happy Creative Director. And with the new store and location in the West Village it seems to be a beacon, a sign of hope that perhaps retail, or all those shuttered doors in the neighborhood might still be revived by people who are inspired.
Today, Left Bank New York doesn’t disappoint; it is better curated, better sourced, better presented and better priced than the old. And for me, it is a better visit since it not only carries lots of fun fodder for inspiration, but brings back wonderful memories of some of the happiest times in my life.
Long Live Books.
Books featured from left to right: Punk Rock, Virginia Boston; Desire Despair, Jack Pierson; NOVA 1965-1975, David Hillman; Francesco Clemente, Michael Auping; Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Newton Stanard; Hong Kong & China Gas Chinese Cookbook, David W. Perkins; My Purple Winter, Carl Corley; NOVA 1965-1975, David Hillman