Via PW, word that Antonin Baudry, who wrote the GN Weapons of Mass Diplomacy and happens to be the the cultural counselor of the French Embassy is opening Albertine, a French language bookstore in the building that houses the French consulate in New York, a historic building located across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art designed by the great Stanford White, with the embassy’s cultural services division at 972 Fifth Avenue, across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The store will house “14,000 volumes of fiction, nonfiction, art, graphic novels, and children’s books in both English translation and French.”

Ya hear that? Graphic novels!

The inspiration behind Albertine, which is modeled after a private French library, comes from Baudry’s own love of bookstores, and concern for their well-being. “I don’t want to live in a city without [at least] three great bookstores,” he says. “Independent bookstores in the U.S., especially in New York, face a hard thing with rent,” he adds alluding not just to the closing of Librairie de France after its rent was tripled. More recently high rent has forced Rizzoli Bookstore, Bank Street Books, and St. Marks Bookshop to relocate.

Like many of the most successful stores, Albertine will offer an active events program, much of it comprised of French in conversation with Americans about literature and science. The store will kick off its events with a six-night festival (Oct. 14-19) curated by cultural critic and author Greil Marcus. Among those featured are graphic novelist and filmmaker Marjane Strapi, Mad Mencreator Matthew Weiner, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

I’ve been to a few events in this building and it’s definitely swoon-worthy. The bookstore sounds amazing and should be a nice beachhead in the continuing invasion of Franco-Belgian graphic novels into the US. Oh yeah, there will also be books without pictures, too. Don’t forget those.


  1. The French Cultural Counselor openly proclaims “sales aren’t the primary goal. The project has been underwritten by sponsors including LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Total Corporate Foundation and Air France. There is no rent, which is a big New York problem,” he said. “We have the freedom to show the books we love.”

    Can you imagine, considering the enormous expense of this enterprise, far from any business district, what could have been accomplished if the same financing were given to the internationally-reputed Librairie de France at Rockefeller Center for almost a century.”? Difficult to understand. Moreover, how can any small business compete with a
    French-government-financed-institution who pays no rent, probably no taxes and sells books at a profit, underwritten by the likes of billion dollar conglomerates and French charitable organizations.If so, in the name of what?
    Our internationally-reputed bookstore carried on in Rockefeller Center for 74 years, closing with a staggering rent of $1,000 per day. Pleas for assistance to the French government fell on deaf ears. An editorial in the Nouvel Observateur proclaimed ” Emanuel Molho alerted the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France, who did not deign to reply. No one moved. No help was offered.” Le pays de Montaigne regarde mourir, dans l’indifférence, l’unique vitrine, là-bas, de son génie et de son humanisme. A croire qu’ils sont bel et bien révolus.

  2. I’ve always liked Franco-Belgian comics but they can be hard to come by here in the US at an affordable price. Fortunately Humanoids got into digital distribution with their own app and digital storefront. That’s how I read Final Incal and the Metabarons without shelling out hundreds of dollars for rare hardcovers.

  3. A government-sponsored bookstore? quelle horreur!
    A government sponsored library? quel est le problème?

    I tried shopping at Librairie de France last fin de siècle. (No, I only read English, and barely converse in German.) I hoped they would have some BD, but alas, except for the “trinity” (Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke), they had nothing.

    Many countries (USA included) sponsor cultural centers across the globe. The Goethe Institute (German) has a nice comics portal online:
    They have 71 titles (of 7000 volumes) about comics in the library here in NYC.

    As for ordering BD, it might be best to order via a shop in Montreal.
    I recommend:
    Librairie Planète BD (A sumptuous shop of mostly new volumes)
    Débédé (across the street from LPBD, mostly antiquarian)
    Librairie Marché du Livre (A general bookstore, with a second floor devoted to BD!)

    I hope, soon, that NYCC follows the model of BEA, and sponsors a country pavillion on the show floor. I know Japan and Romania (!) have exhibited… how cool would it be to bring in Brazilian, or Taiwanese, or Indian cartoonists and publishers?

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