Bright Young Things: Andrea Tomberg

Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Andrea Tomberg, proprietor of Tomberg Rare Books in Greenwich, Connecticut:

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NP: How did you get started in rare books?

AT: My first job after graduating from the University of Michigan was in a New York literary agency.  Although I loved the idea of the job, I couldn't get accustomed to sitting behind a desk all day.  After a year, I returned to school to study for my masters in education. I taught elementary school and also received my post-masters degree in literacy so I could focus on teaching reading and writing.   After my son was born, I "retired," and focused on book collecting and studying the trade.  I frequented estate sales and volunteered as a "pricer" for my local library's book sales, which allowed me to handle a wide variety of books in varying conditions.  

NP: When did you open Tomberg Rare Books and what do you specialize in?

AT: I established my business in August 2011 after attending the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar on scholarship.  I had been selling a variety of books that I picked up at sales and was in need of a more formal education in the trade and some camaraderie among fellow booksellers.  After a compact week full of knowledge, I returned home and established Tomberg Rare Books.  I have a particular interest in the mimeo revolution, the Beats, The New York School, poetry and the 20th century avant-garde.  I am also interested in the art and music scenes from the 70s, 80s, 90s, especially in New York.  My goal is to become more curatorial in nature with the idea of putting together specific collections to offer for sale.

NP: Favorite or most interesting book (or etc) that you've handled?

AT: I had the opportunity to buy a small archive of The Kitchen, an alternative artist space started in the early 1970's.  With an assortment of fliers, photos, announcements and press releases relating to different artists and various mediums, I have a great opportunity for research in an area and time period that I am interested in. 

NP: How did you first big fair go?

AT: I had the opportunity to work for Bill Schaberg of Athena Books during this year's New York ABAA fair. He is a true master of the trade.  I watched Bill connect with customers and colleagues with a rare grace.  His level of professionalism and expertise is something I hope to achieve one day.  The book fair was a truly unbelievable experience.  The range and variety of materials demonstrates how wonderfully diverse the book trade is - and that there is always room to find your niche.

NP: What do you personally collect?

AT: I have a small Hunter Thompson and Tom Wolfe collection but the majority of books in my personal library are books on books, bookseller memoirs and books on the history of bookselling.  I also have many reference materials, bibliographies and enjoy collecting other booksellers' catalogues.

NP: What do you love about the book trade?

AT: What I love about the book trade is that it allows me to follow my own interests and curiosities in a professional way.  I continue to learn about the trade and best practices through my relationships with other dealers.  There is such a luxury and freedom in being able to follow my own path. There are no dull moments.  I have met so many generous and supportive dealers whom have selflessly offered advice, wisdom and knowledge.

NP: Thoughts on the future of the book trade?

AT: The book trade has a very definite future.  As our idea of the book evolves with today's technology, collecting habits will change with it.  New book dealers will have the opportunity to discover new areas of collecting and possibly different types of items that better represent the current culture. In studying the decades of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, it is obvious what an important role ephemera has taken - punk rock flyers, zines, and artist catalogues became the main sources for primary information.

NP: Tell us about the contents of your first catalogue and how to obtain a copy:

AT: My first catalog is now available to download as a PDF from my website. Readers interested in obtaining a printed copy can email me at or call (203) 223-5412.  Some highlights include: Ted Berrigan's Living with Chris, William Burrough"s Valentine's Day Reading, a complete set of Locus Solus, a Bob Dylan artists' book, John Sinclair's 1974 Michigan Marijuana Initiative, a few signed Ed Sanders, FY: A magazine of the arts, some small press ephemera, and the uncorrected page proof of the first edition of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.  Also included are signed women's poetry and artists' magazines.