Lars Müller Publishers (LMP): Hi Tommy! Before talking about how you became a vintage bookstore owner, could you tell us how the collaboration with Lars Müller came to life?
Tommy: As part of my venture into combining my stock of vintage books with selected new books I was already offering a couple of Lars Müller Publishers books. It was a great satisfaction to see these books were popular in Copenhagen as well and sold out quickly. Many of Lars Müller Publishers’ books, for example the books by Kenya Hara and Jasper Morrison, make great gifts for the young and creative audience. So, I knew the books would suit my customers.
After listening to a great interview Podcast from Formfunk with Lars, I noticed many similarities in the way Lars and I see books as a medium. He has huge knowledge of the tradition of book making and great care and admiration for books without being too nostalgic. Not everything has to be presented in a printed book, but if you decide to publish then you try to make the most out of it, passing on the real feel of books and creating something that has a staying value.
I also learned from this podcast that Lars Müller Publishers was thinking about doing some pop-up stores outside of Switzerland, maybe even in unlikely places. So I thought: why not ask if they wanted to come to Copenhagen and open a bookstore inside my shop over the summer? And to my great joy Lars paid me a visit earlier this year and said yes.
LMP: Thank you for the insight. Now tell us, how did you become a book lover? How did that influence your career choice?
Tommy: I have always, since childhood, been a “book’s person,” but never imagined myself running a bookstore as my father was a car mechanic and my mother unemployed and there were absolutely no books at home. As a child I borrowed many books from libraries – in huge amounts. It was a great way of escaping to better or more exciting worlds. That it could be a trade did not come into my mind at all.
After many detours I did, however, end up with a university degree in literature and semiotics in the 90s and at some point I also started collecting books. I worked part time in a local second hand bookstore but, as a student, did't have enough money to collect rare books. Then one day I walked by a removers company. They sold a complete library of beautiful books on art, philosophy, modernity and Modern First Editions. I first started buying books in plastic bags and carried them home, one by one to my tiny student rental. Soon I realized that I could not let one single book of this collection pass. So I borrowed some money and bought them all at once. It was completely hopeless. Suddenly I had books everywhere and no money at all, not for food, not for anything else. So I started selling. I had to.
It turned out to be kind of fun as well and I earned quite some money too. Little by little I got rid of most of the books I bought in the first place and somehow my need to collect books disappeared. I think the fact that I “got them all at once” – each book I was ever dreaming of was there! – I felt no more need to collect for myself. Now I only take books home occasionally. I still read a lot but only own very few books. I have them in my shop of course – for a period of time at least.
I think that experience helped me understand book collectors and I can give good guidance to buyers. I see myself as a facilitator of all sorts of books; I pass books on, from seller to buyer. For me that is a very satisfying way of living.