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Brentano's in Paris to reopen -- the rich get richer

Brentano's in Paris to reopen -- the rich get richer

Good news for ex-pat Americans wandering the streets of Paris: Brentano's is preparing to reopen, after months of being dark. The Bookseller reports that the store at 37 avenue de l'Opéra closed last summer -- after 113 years in business -- when its rent in the tres chic neighborhood tripled. But the lease and brand were taken over by Iranian-born Farokh Sharifi, who plans to broaden the lines of merchandise. About 35 to 40 percent of the store will be devoted to English-language books.

The opening would restore another famous name to Paris' bookstores. When I last visited the city a couple of years ago, I loved being surrounded by books -- there seemed to be a store on every corner and second-hand-sellers (les bouquinistes) lined the walls along the Seine. If only the book culture could be as strong in America. I didn't get a chance to wander into Brentano's -- and now I'm sorry. I did enjoy spending time in two English-language bookstores on the Left Bank -- Shakespeare & Company and the Village Voice -- as well as the large French chain, Gibert Jeune.

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Speaking of literary Paris, "The Letters of Sylvia Beach" is scheduled for an April 12 release. She's the Baltimore-born woman who ran the original Shakespeare & Company and published James Joyce's "Ulysses." Her letters to luminaries such as Joyce, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound in the pre-war period make for interesting reading about a vanished era.

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