During my lunch break, the artist Alyâa Kamel asked me: “come, I’d like to introduce you to my literature mentor”. And that’s how I met the extraordinary Sir Bernard Letu.
As time went by, his bookstore not only became the headquarters of the Geneva’s intelligentsia but also sold online to the whole world. Among his clients, the MoMA, Indianapolis university, the Limoges Museum but he also plays it local as he collaborates with the municipal libraries. His specialty? Books on photography and of applied arts such as jewellery, textile, ceramic, horology, costumes, architecture as well as extra-european art (China, Japan, Africa, etc.). What you can’t find anywhere else, you will find it right here: whether the book is a limited series or is simply rare. Many of what he calls “small portable works of art” are exclusively sold at his bookstore (Ertug-Kocabiyik editions for example) and are among his collection which now count over 9’000 books. Forget about google or any digital tablet, Bernard Letu’s experience is far more important and knowledgable.
He grew up in Paris and started his own journal while he was a student; he studied foreign languages and law before working in the finance field for 13 years. As he was expatriated to Basel, he decided one day to another, that it was about time he started doing something he likes. Back in 1973 he loved surrealism and gravure and that’s how he opened his art gallery at the rue St Leger where he met the local artist Dominique Appia and edited his first book. Many have followed ever since and slowly but surely, works of art were replaced by books.
Moliere had his theatre, Bernard Letu has his bookstore. Every corner of it is a hidden treasure, all you have to do is push the door to discover it and let yourself be guided by a master. Don’t hesitate to challenge him, he loves researching for rarity.
PS: a must see, the erotic section, something which might spice up your love life…
Rue Calvin 2, 1204 Geneva
Tue to Fri 11am-6.30pm; Sat 11am-5pm