On February 8th, at the Book Fair Exhibitor Reception in Pasadena, the ABAA Women’s Initiative sponsored the first in a series of tributes to women booksellers who have left a lasting impression on the American trade. Our first honoree was Carol Sandberg, an accomplished career bookseller whose contributions extend beyond the great businesses she helped to build.
Carol started bookselling in 1974, when Ken Karmiole hired her fresh out of UCLA library school to join Ben and Lou Weinstein at Heritage Book Shop. In 1985, Carol went into partnership with Michael and Kathleen Thompson at Michael R. Thompson Rare Books, working for more than three decades to make that firm a mainstay of the trade in Los Angeles. At the Pasadena event, Carol’s longtime friend and colleague John Windle toasted her as “one of the finest individuals our trade has ever employed,” and shared Chris Loker’s tribute to Carol as “a quiet powerhouse in our trade, and a jewel in our crown . . . with the warmest heart and kindest way I know.”
Carol’s long-standing commitment to California Rare Book School and the Southern California Chapter, organizing events from small seminars to international book fairs, helped create a vibrant community of booksellers and collectors on the West Coast. To her junior colleagues, she has been a generous and inspiring role model. One of those booksellers, Chris Lowenstein, contributed the following memory, read at the reception by ABAA Executive Director Susan Benne:
“I first met Carol back in 2007. I was at my second book fair after starting my business, Book Hunter's Holiday, about six months earlier. I had driven both my books and the books of my mentor, Vic Zoschak, to the (now defunct) Santa Monica fair, as Vic was getting married to his lovely Ellen that same weekend. It was my job to sell both Vic's and my books, and I was a bit daunted to set up the whole booth by myself. I was a novice in the trade and had never met any of the other booksellers in Southern California. I was nervous.
“Carol and Michael's booth was right across the aisle from mine. I walked over to introduce myself and to explain that I was selling books for both my own business and for Tavistock Books. Carol and Michael gave me a warm welcome, the first Southern California booksellers I met. Later, after setting up the booth, I spoke with Carol about the author in which I specialize, Dante Alighieri, and she came over to my booth with an interesting eighteenth-century biography of Dante and Petrarch. I bought it. As we chatted, she also chose and bought a book from my booth. I was so heartened by that, as my inventory at the time was rather nondescript. Carol was one of the first women I had met in the antiquarian book trade, and she has always been kind and ready to share advice and ideas. She looks out for books I would like and, when I have the right ones, has bought books from me.
“Most importantly, Carol has been an encourager and an example for me and, I am sure, for many others in the trade. She is a woman whose opinions I value and whose expertise I admire and hope to emulate. I am happy that she is being honored for her four decades in the book business tonight. It is so very well deserved.”
It came as no surprise to anyone when Carol took the mike, after the glasses were raised in Pasadena, to acknowledge the contributions of others to her success. We salute Carol Sandberg, and feel lucky to have her as a mentor, colleague, and friend.
Next month in New York, the ABAA Women’s Initiative will continue our 2018 programming with a lively panel discussion, Collections and Women, featuring Elizabeth Denlinger of the New York Public Library’s Pforzheimer Collection, Karla Nielsen of Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Sarah Gordon of the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. The panel will take place at the Park Avenue Armory at 10 AM on Sunday, March 11, and will be open to all. Save the date.
(Photo credit: Lisa Baskin.)