Cool Bookish Places

10 U.S. Rare Bookstores You Can Visit Right Now

Sarah Nicolas

Staff Writer

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author who lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When not writing, they can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find them on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.

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Sure, you can research and buy rare books online, but if you’re itching to browse and discover something truly special (or prefer an in-person chat with an expert while looking for something specific) there are plenty of wonderful antiquarian bookstores all over the United States.

Whether you’re building your own private library, searching for a unique special-occasion gift, or just want to check out some really cool bookish spaces, here are ten rare bookstores you can visit in the United States.

Raptis Rare Books

Located in balmy Palm Beach, Florida, Raptis specializes “in working with private collectors with a specific wish list, helping individuals find the ideal gift for special occasions, and partnering with representatives of institutions.”

Bauman Rare Books

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With 44 years experience and gallery locations in New York and Las Vegas, and an office in Philadelphia, Bauman is one of the preeminent locations for painstakingly verified and certified rare books.

The Strand

Most are familiar with The Strand in New York City for their “18 miles of books” and stacked event calendar, but they also have a Rare Book Room featuring things like a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles for $4,500 (in case you’re looking to get me a nice Christmas present).

John K. King Used & Rare Books

The highly collectible books are kept separate from the main browsable collection in this massive Detroit store, but are also fully cataloged and searchable online.

Argosy Book Store

This Manhattan shop is on its third generation of family ownership. They specialize in antique maps, autographs, modern first editions, the history of medicine and science, and Americana.

Ursus Books, Ltd.

Located in New York City, this store is particularly strong in, and knowledgeable about, illustrated books, roughly dating from the 15th century through the present.

Honey & Wax Booksellers

This Brooklyn store’s name is inspired by a nineteenth-century epigram: “use books as bees use flowers.” To encourage women in the rare book trade, they offer an annual prize of $1,000 for an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman. They are available by appointment only.

Whitmore Rare Books

Whitmore was established in Pasadena in 2010, so it’s a more recent addition to the rare book world. Their gallery is open “by chance or appointment.”

Randall House Rare Books

Located in a Santa Barbara adobe building dated to 1825, Randall House specializes in autographs, manuscripts, autograph letters, historical documents and ephemera.

The Philadelphia Print Shop

The Philadelphia print shops specializes in rare prints and maps from the fifteenth through the early twentieth centuries, but also features one of the largest collections of books related to their specialty.

If you have any favorite rare bookstores, please let me know in the comments so I can add it to my long list of bookish places to visit! Want to see even more fabulous bookstores?