Review: Bauman Rare Books

Bauman Rare Books  

Midtown | 535 Madison Ave. |Bauman Rare Books


Some days the hustle and bustle of midtown can get you going and pump you up for a hard day's work of crunching numbers in excel. Other days you just need a break from all that noise and activity to spend time in a beautiful library surrounded by books representing centuries of history. Bauman Rare Books is on Madison Avenue between 54th and 55th. So probably where you’d least expect a stunningly beautiful and elegantly ornate library full of the kind of gilted books you might find in a museum.

On second thought though, you’ll realize that the store’s location makes perfect sense as it caters to the people who are able to afford a rare book collection and might stop in on a lunch break to pick up a $15,000 first edition collection of the Lord of the Rings series or perhaps snag the big prize: a $182,000 copy of Gulliver’s Travels complete with an “engraved frontpiece portrait of Gulliver, six plates (four maps and two plans), in beautiful, unrestored, full contemporary calf bindings.” If that all sounds a bit pricey for your budget, don’t worry, the library is a fantastic place to wander into and explore whenever you need a break from staring at your computer screen until your eyes go numb.





Most likely you are here just to browse (although if you are here to buy, lucky you, can we come visit your library someday?). Take your time when browsing because there are all sorts of literary treasures hiding in plain sight. Whether you are an Eloise fan who would love to check out the first edition, first printing version of Eloise in Paris or a history buff who can’t wait to get their hands on a first edition 1889 printing of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, you are sure to find something you love.




You may have expected to walk in and meet a very stiff salesperson who much like in a library or museum, is protective of the space and its artifacts. This was most certainly not the case. We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a friendly woman who patiently answered our many questions about the store, its history and the original copies they carried. She was knowledgeable and clearly proud to be working at Bauman, yet very down to earth and chatty. While she knew from the outset that we were there to browse not to buy, she treated us with respect and encouraged to explore to the store.



Everybody loves a beautiful library, especially one that’s tucked away into an unassuming storefront in the middle of midtown Manhattan. The space is perfectly suited to both the product and purpose of Bauman Rare Books. The dark wood, pine scent and antique books stacked from floor to ceiling transport you from the streets of Manhattan to what feels like the library in Downton Abbey. The store feels calm and serene in the model of the library yet retains a grandiose and somewhat intimidating feel by being surrounded by true historical artifacts like a museum.




As we noted in our review of The RealReal, one of the big trends we’ve seen over the past year is the rise of resale and sustainable consumption. Much of this discussion has revolved around the rise of digital platforms dedicated to luxury resale of apparel and accessories. Spending time in Bauman Rare Books however, reminded us that the world of resale predates the rise of the digital platforms. The books sold are all “second hand” in the sense that they have been previously owned and loved. Bauman Rare Books provides the kind of retail experience that often feels so elusive. The books are stunning both aesthetically and for their historical significance, the people are knowledgeable and friendly and the place itself is somewhere you can lose yourself in for hours. 


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