By Nicole Breskin
WEST VILLAGE — It’s official: Left Bank Books, a neighborhood haunt for rare and first editions, is moving to a new location around the corner, not closing down.
But the much-loved owner of the bookstore will be leaving town and turning over day-to-day operations to his employees in the next six months.
Kim Herzinger, who has run the iconic store on W. 4th St. for the past five years, said that as soon as the move to 17 Eighth Ave. is completed, he will relocate to Austin, Texas, to be an English professor at University of Houston-Victoria.
Herzinger's move comes after months of fear that the independent book store, which has been in business for 18 years, would have to shut down because the landlord refused to renew the lease.
“I wish we didn’t have to move,” Herzinger said . “But I’m happy it will still exist around the corner.”
The store, which is selling Normal Mailer’s personal copy of “The Naked and The Dead” from 1948 for $10,000, has dropped the prices on much of its inventory by as much as 70 percent in preparation for the move.
A professor for 27 years, Herzinger said the timing of his new job had no correlation to the closing of his old shop. He said he would still be deeply invested in Left Bank Books.
That's good news for regulars who have grown to love the books Herzinger keeps in the store.
“This store is partially a hangout for me," said Gary Friedman, of Greenwich Village. "I’m glad the store is continuing on. But I’d be more excited if Kim wasn’t leaving.”
The Village and surrounding streets have recently seen a spate of closings of independent bookstores recently as e-books, large chains and the economy continue to take their toll.
Oscar Wilde Bookshop on Christopher Street closed in March this year. Librería Lectorum on W. 14th St. closed and opened a web-based store in 2007.
But Herzinger is hopeful. He said as Kindle gains prominence and books become more scarce, they will only become more valuable.
“We take it for granted,” he said. “But a book as an object and physical thing is only going to become more important.”