Just when you think you know Geneva’s Old Town, you discover another one of its best-kept secrets – this time a gem of a bookstore with a collection so beautiful and inspiring it will make you fall in love with books all over again.
Forget high street bookstores or Amazon, if you’re looking for an authentic, beautiful coffee table book, collector’s item or an extremely rare book that is an object of art in itself, you’ll find it at the Librairie Bernard Letu in Rue Jean Calvin.
A GIFT TO BE TREASURED FOR YEARS
From limited edition Assouline books, to Taschen and Abrams collections, you’ll find a special and unique gift that will be treasured for years. (Prices start from CHF50 and go up to the thousands for extremely rare copies). The most valuable book ever sold– was titled Defilé du Sultan by ERTUG to a Turkish collector – for CHF15 000.
The 100 square meter shop over two floors offers an impressive treasure trove of over 10,000 books specializing in art and applied arts including fashion, photography, architecture, interior decoration and jewellery.
The collection, of which more than 50% are in English, is expertly curated by Bernard Letu, a pillar in Geneva’s cultural society.
NOT ON THE HIGH STREET
You’re unlikely to find his books in high street bookstores as he claims to be uninfluenced by publishers and trends.
So, how does he choose his books?
“My criteria include my own travels and interests, clients’ wishes, visits from independent book sellers and my own research – I read very widely. “
He also offers the catalogues of the most recent art exhibitions around the world. So, if you can’t make it to Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London for example, you can experience it through the pages of a book.
OPEN-MINDED TOWARDS THE ARTS
Always on hand to provide personal insights or recommendations, Bernard loves sharing his passion and knowledge with his loyal local and foreign clientele, who are not all connoisseurs but whom he describes as having an ‘open mind towards the arts.”
Bernard Letu, who grew up in Paris, opened the shop in 1973, after abandoning a career in finance to pursue his true passion and satisfy the yearnings of an artist’s soul. His sought-after collection is often featured in local museum exhibitions and used by the University of Geneva and city libraries.
IRRESISTIBLE TO TOUCH AND SMELL
Visiting this bookshop is an experience in itself. It is impossible to remain insensitive to the beautiful books, which are irresistible to touch and smell. Bernard Letu, while conscious of the challenges represented by the Internet or electronic readers, still believes in the books’ physical appeal.
Take the time to step into Librairie Bernard Letu and be prepared to lose a few hours of your life – you’ll leave a richer person for it.