The East Hampton rare-book seller Harper’s Books is opening a shop in a residential space on the Upper East Side. The space, called Harper’s Apartment, is located on East 74th Street between Madison and Park and will be open by appointment only.
“It’s sort of in the style of Fulton Ryder, mixing books and art and cultural artifacts,” said Harper’s Books owner, Harper Levine, referring to Richard Prince’s mostly secretive bookstore that closed its Upper East Side shop last year. “We’ll basically let anybody come, but they have to make an appointment.” Levine said the store will host dinners and cocktail parties, as well as the occasional show. But as for concrete plans, Levine said, “I’m sort of a proponent of an organic style of running a business. So we’re gonna see how it goes and take it from there.”
This is not the store’s first foray in Manhattan—Harper’s Books did a pop-up event at the Carlyle Hotel during Armory Week last March, as well as a joint show with Fulton Ryder and fellow bookseller Karma at the Lowell Hotel in 2013. Levine does intend to do a show “at some point” of work by Stuart Sutcliffe. The East Hampton store had done a show of work by the British artist (and early Beatles bassist) in 2013, which Prince curated. “What I hope to do is build on the program that we’re running out in the Hamptons,” Levine said.
“We want to present art and books in a more intimate setting,” he continued. “A lot of people are moving to the Upper East Side. I feel like there’s a bit of momentum up here. We’re a little tired of the traditional gallery space where you have fluorescent lights and concrete floors and white walls. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s always good to have a new context.”
Levine said people will be able to start making appointments probably “after the holidays,” though the space might be ready to go sooner than that. (“If I had something to show someone, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to have them up,” he said.)
Being in an apartment also carries certain advantages: “I slept there last night,” Levine said, “so it is functional.”