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Bottom Line: New owner may mean a new edition of a Hanover bookstore

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 7/11/2020 9:28:43 PM
Modified: 7/11/2020 9:28:41 PM

A page has turned at Left Bank Books.

Nancy Cressman, the former Thetford Elementary School art teacher who has owned and run the little used book shop located up a steep staircase above Dirt Cowboy Cafe in Hanover, has sold Left Bank Books to employee Rena Mosteirin.

Mosteirin, a Lyme poet and writing instructor at Dartmouth College’s MALS program, closed on her purchase from Cressman on Wednesday, July 7 — exactly 13 years to the day after Cressman bought Left Bank from founder Corlan Johnson.

“We wanted to align on that date for the symbolism of that,” said Cressman, who added that she decided to pass her business on because “13 years is a good amount of time.”

“This is retirement for me,” she said. “Our first grandchild is arriving, so I’m looking forward to switching gears.”

Mosteirin, a 2007 alumna of Dartmouth — an English major, naturally — has worked at Left Bank Books for six years and said she plans to keep things largely the same, especially when it comes to the bookstore’s role in introducing writers to the community through readings and literary events.

“When I was a student at Dartmouth, I used to come into the store and hang out here, finding books from small presses I’d never heard of,” said Mosteirin, who credits the discoveries she made at the store with helping her to become an experimental poet. (She is the co-author, along with her husband, Dartmouth English professor James Dobson, of Moonbit, published in 2019 and described as “a hybrid work comprised of experimental poetry and a critical theory of the poetics and politics of computer code.”)

Used bookstores in the region are becoming ever scarcer — The Chester Bookworm in Chester, Vt., which had an awesome selection of books on Greek and Roman literature, and Henniker Bookfarm in Henniker, N.H., another seller of used books with a discriminating selection whose owner passed away earlier this year, both recently closed — so news that Left Bank will continue under a new owner dedicated to literature is heartening.

There will be a couple changes, however. Cressman had been selling Left Bank’s books on Amazon, but Mosteirin said they will shift to another online sales platform “for various reasons” once they decide which one to adopt.

“We’re going to keep things pretty much as is,” Mosteirin said. “Nancy arranged things beautifully. Any changes are going to come pretty slowly.”

Left Bank Books began in the 1990s, with Johnson selling used books at a kiosk in front of the Hanover Town Hall. Johnson then moved her books into the current space in 1999, and Cressman, looking for a new challenge after teaching at Thetford Elementary for 20 years, bought the store from Johnson in 2007.

In addition to hosting a long list of Upper Valley, regional and national writers, Left Bank Books has hired a steady stream of Hanover High School students working their first jobs over the years.

“To meet these book-loving kids is one of the most memorable parts” of running the store, Cressman said.

There could be more bookstore ownership changes on the horizon. Norwich Bookstore’s longtime owners, Penny McConnel and Liza Bernard, have put the shop on the market and are looking for the right person to shepherd it into the future.

“But we are not going anywhere until we find the right booksellers to carry on the traditions,” McConnel and Bernard assure on the store’s website.

Lots of paperfor anti-vaper

Oh man, this doesn’t sound good for vaping in the boys room.

FreshAir Sensor, the startup at Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon that makes a device that detects tobacco smoke in real time — hotels are big customers — has won a $1.2 million grant from National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to help develop “effective vaping sensors for use in schools and other environments.”

Technically, FreshAir Sensor’s device detects nicotine molecules, not smoke, and the challenge has been to do the same for vaping emissions. FreshAir has been working on the technology for some time and views vapor detection as a logical extension of its market.

Joe BelBruno, the Dartmouth emeritus chemistry professor who is the chief tech person at FreshAir, said in a news release that the grant money will be applied to develop a sensing device to “help schools reduce the incidence of vaping and improve youth health outcomes.”

Contact John Lippman at

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