New York City Francophiles will soon to lose their Librairie de France bookstore when it closes this August. The family-run store was the first retail tenants of Rockefeller Center and has been opened since 1935 and was brought in at the behest of David Rockefeller himself.
The Librairie was a reliable source of the latest bestsellers from France (I discovered Daniel Pennac there, among others), as well as books and magazines, and dictionaries in more than 100 languages. The AFP reports that the store’s rent is going to balloon from $360,000 to nearly $1 million this year – an astronomical sum for any bookstore, let alone a foreign language one.
It’s wonder that S.F. Vanni, NYC’s only Italian-language bookstore (sorry, Rizzoli doesn’t count) still manages to survive, though admittedly the last time I was there stock consisted of a few hundred dusty titles – lots of them Andrea Camilleri novels.
Note: If you’re looking for S.F. Vanni, you can find it 30 W 12th between 5th & 6th Aves. Call ahead -- 212-675-6336 -- for opening hours, as it’s only open sporadically Tuesday – Friday -- and the proprietory closes up shop, as per Italian tradition, for an afternoon siesta.