Bookworm burglar breaks into Chester County stone barn bookstore

Steve Tawa
February 12, 2019 - 4:05 pm
Baldwin's Book Barn has been a haven for hard-to-find, relatively rare books for generations of readers.

Courtesy of Baldwin's Book Barn

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A burglar - apparently with good reading habits - got away with some of the nicer books in an old, used bookstore tucked between farms in rural, Chester County. 

Baldwin's Book Barn has been a haven for hard-to-find, relatively rare books for generations of readers. 

When store employee Fred Dannaway arrived at the barn Sunday morning to open up, he noticed the glass pane on the storefront door was broken. 

"I knew immediately that we had been burglarized," Dannaway said. 

His attention immediately focused on the three cases that contain better, older edition books. 

"Some of them older, some more valuable. I immediately walked over there, and sure enough, two of those cases, almost everything had been removed from the lower levels," he said. 

The bookworm burglar probably knew just what titles and editions they wanted. 

"We have a cash register right next to the cases, and it was untouched. There was some money in the cash register," Dannaway added. 

Dannaway, who has worked at the Book Barn for 17 years, estimates that they took at least 20 to 30 books that are harder-to-find editions, probably ranging up to $600 to $700 apiece. 

"When we come across a book that is more than $100, we'll put it in there. We just don't want people fingering those books all day long. But, anybody who wants can ask, or they can reach in and grab it. We're not too particular about that," he said. 

The stone barn itself is stuffed to the rafters with some 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps, prints and other collectibles. The old milking house was converted into a residence and the stone barn became a bookshop in the 1940s.