Haven for Hardbacks: Bauer’s Rare Bookstore stocks stacks of wonderful works
By Jenna Jay
Bauer’s Rare Bookstore reinforces Alfred Bauer’s stance on the importance of preserving literature in its written form — a stark contrast to trends in technology with reading devices. “Kindle be gone!” he says. To that end, Bauer, 71, is a proponent of maintaining the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library at UCSD, which is in danger of closing under proposed budget cuts.
His bookstore, one of a few in downtown La Jolla, carries on the tradition of ceiling-to-floor rows of shelves stocked with reading materials and Bauer plans to keep it that way.
“Long live the timeless ‘hands on’ approach to reading and browsing,” Bauer said, “for whatever age, it is our fortune to be.”
Bauer is also proprietor of the Alcala Gallery, 950 Silverado, the oldest plein-air art gallery in La Jolla. While he incorporates books about the gallery’s artists in his shop at the gallery, Bauer’s greatest literary findings are located in the alleyway behind Girard Avenue, facing onto Drury Lane.
The pet-friendly Bauer’s Rare Books is a hidden gem. The shop features collections on subjects like the fine arts, architecture, photography and interior design, but the bookstore’s most impressive gems are its literary classics.
Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Dr. Seuss are VIPs here with several of their first editions available for purchase. “[I have] John Steinbeck, he’s very popular,” Bauer said. “Mark Twain, ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ It’s endless what I have.”
Bauer collects, preserves and conserves books, buying and selling hard-to-find literary keepsakes. The oldest book in his collection dates to 1508, but Bauer declines to disclose their monetary value, “out of respect to my clients,” he explained.
“Everything is original,” Bauer said. “We handpick everything here. I put the covers on all the books. It’s a big job.”
Young readers will find delights, as well. Original Dr. Seuss books, like “The King’s Stilts,” sit on the shelves behind the counter, and other signed books by Ted Geisel are available for purchase. Among other prized possessions are original Revolutionary War pamphlets, “The Great Gatsby” (sans its original cover), and a signed book by Richard Nixon.
The store is managed by Drew Sinclair, whose bronze and aluminum sculptures add even more value to the interior.
Bauer has been a bookstore owner since the 1960s, when he opened his first shop on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. “In the very near future,” he said, “it is our intention to offer talks to the public about book collecting, the proper care of books, book conservation, how to identify a first edition, and the lure of children’s literature.”
If you go
What: Bauer’s Rare Books, in its second year, buys and sells fine books and collections, and also accepts books on consignment.
Where: 7466 Girard Ave. (facing Drury Lane)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and by appointment
Phone: (858) 551-5103
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