Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category


Meet the Buyers: Travel Guides

Friday, July 11th, 2014

The days are long, it’s mostly dry and sometimes even sunny, and everyone is zombie-walking their way to their summer vacations. It must be July! High time to introduce you to the dapper gentlemen who make sure you have plenty of holiday destinations to choose from in our Travel Guides sections.

Meet MaxM from ABC Amsterdam and Tom from ABC The Hague:

How long have you been the section’s buyer?

MaxM: Since 2013.

Tom: I’m not entirely sure. Since 2002? 2004? Quite a while.

What guides, besides those on The Netherlands, do you always try to keep in stock?

MaxM: Those on Indonesia, Croatia, Japan, Berlin and Portugal.

Tom: Pretty much everything, really. Except the guides on Antarctica. But I really do try to have the entire Lonely Planet and Eyewitness guide collections in stock at all times. Rough Guides are a little less popular.

Do you take a travel guide with you when you go on vacation?

MaxM: No. I once bought one when I went to South Africa, but I didn’t use it. So out of habit I don’t buy them because I don’t really need them.

Tom: Yes. The way I travel I can only bring one guide with me, though, so it’s always the Lonely Planet for me. It has more info than the others about logistics, cheap accommodation, etc. I do look in other guides for information, though. Once I travelled to Rome with three other people, and every one of us had a different type of guide! That was great for comparisons.

Personal preference: Lonely Planet, Rough Guide or Eyewitness guides?

MaxM: Rough Guides. They offer more depth about the country’s culture and cultural institutions rather than purely information, which the Lonely Planets offer more of. They are also less frequently published than Lonely Planets, which to me seems like they have a better value.

Tom: Lonely Planets, as I just explained. Eyewitness guides are beautiful to look at. Rough Guides I’m not that familiar with, so it takes me a longer time to look up the information I need.

What has been the top-selling, non-Netherlands guide in 2014 so far?

MaxM: The Lonely Planet Japan. No matter how many I buy for the section, I always sell out quickly!

Tom: The past few years I’ve noticed that Croatia and Denmark have been relative bestsellers. Usually it’s the guides to France and Spain.

If you could visit any destination in the world, where would you go?

MaxM: Seoul and Tokyo. Seoul because it is the StarCraft capital in the world. I don’t play the game as much anymore, but I would love to soak up how unbelievably huge it is there. Tokyo because it is a country unto itself. It’s an enormous city, very densely populated, yet everything stays orderly. I’ve always wanted to go there.

Tom: I would like to visit Pitcairn and Socotra. Pitcairn because it’s one of those islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that take forever to reach. The trip would be quite costly, but I would love to make it once. Socotra is an island off the Yemen coast. It has some spectacular nature, but because of its location it’s quite a dangerous place to travel to.

There are ebooks available for travel guides to Indonesia, Croatia, Berlin, Portugal, Antarctica, South Africa, Rome, Japan, Denmark, France, Spain, Seoul, Pitcairn (in the LP South Pacific) and Socotra (in the LP Oman, UAE and Arabian Peninsula). In fact, there are ebooks available for practically all travel guides! Check our Advanced Search for the destination of your choice.

Still not sure where your summer plans will take you? Check out our Nice Price: Travel recommendations list. It’s been freshly updated with our latest travel guide bargains.

Meet the Buyers: Crime Fiction / Mysteries & Thrillers

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Last month we introduced you to the Fiction buyers. This month, because it’s the ‘Maand van het Spannende Boek’ in The Netherlands, it’s all about mysteries, thrillers and crime…  Meet Pleun and PeterL, Crime Fiction buyers at ABC Amsterdam, and Jouke, Mysteries & Thrillers buyer at ABC The Hague.

Should the section be called Crime Fiction or Mysteries & Thrillers? Or something else?

Pleun: There is always some kind of crime in the books so Crime Fiction it is for me. :-)
PeterL: I prefer Crime Fiction. I like the sound of that.
Jouke: There is probably no “one label to rule them all”. The section covers a variety of genres: from spy fiction to whodunnits to action/adventures to forensic investigations and more. When pointing the section out to customers, I usually refer to it as the Mysteries & Thrillers section.

How long have you been the section’s buyer?

Pleun: Since 2006. Darn, that’s a long time!
PeterL: I’m not sure but I think since 2010.
Jouke: Since 2011.

Which author or series of books should have a bigger audience, and why?

Pleun: I love Michael Robotham, especially his early work. He is a master in psychological crime writing. I also love the early books by Minette Walters. Such a shame she she hasn’t written a book in such a long time. She gets under the skin of her characters better then anyone I know.
PeterL: Personally I like the David Loogan series by Harry Dolan. There are only three volumes in the series until now. It’s well written, a good read. Something else I really appreciated was The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns, his latest release. I liked it so much that I orderded The Church of Dead Girls by him with our supplier of second-hand books, because a lot of his books are unfortunately no longer in print. For what it’s worth, both of these authors are recommended by Stephen King. ;-)
Jouke: Michael Connelly. What I especially like about his books are the police procedural (Harry Bosch series) and legal procedural (Micky Haller series) elements. And the plot twists.

What makes buying for this section interesting/fun?

Pleun: I am a fan of the genre, but after so many years I don’t read everything anymore. I used to read every book that the publishers sent to me, but now I am picky. Once in a blue moon you find a jewel – ahhh, how wonderful that is! To find something truly original is difficult. It may happen once or twice a year.
PeterL: It is my favorite genre. I am not sure what this says about me but I love to read about the perfect crime.
Jouke: It is a big section, which gives room to experiment with lesser-known authors and also with subsections. In our The Hague store, we permanently have a Historical Suspense subsection. I’m thinking about building a subsection of foreign language thrillers. That could be a home for the myriad of Scandinavian thriller authors, as well as some Italian, Japanese, German and French authors that have been translated into English.

What has been the best-selling title of 2014 so far?

Pleun: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is still going strong. What an amazing writer!
PeterL: Inferno by Dan Brown, altough the paperback edition of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) is also selling really well, not to mention Elizabeth George’s paperback Just One Evil Act.
Jouke: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which is one of ABC’s Favorites. It is also being made into a movie, to be released this year, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris, was a De Wereld Draait Door book-of-the-month, which helped sell quite a lot of copies. Dan Brown’s Inferno has just been released in paperback and is picking up speed, as expected. The latest book from a big author, like Lee Child, is always a bestseller.

Please name some highly anticipated summer releases.

Pleun: A new Gillian Flynn would be nice, and a new S. J. Watson would be great, too! But those will take a while. As for the rest… they’ll come when they come. Oh, I do have one exception and that’s Mr. Stephen King’s newest, Mr. Mercedes.
PeterL: I am curious about The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson and looking forward to The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.
Jouke: Robert Galbraith’s second instalment of the Cormoran Strike series, The Silkworm, the final part of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, Edge of Eternity, and Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room. :-)

There are ebooks available for Michael Robotham, Minette Walters, David Loogan #1, Harry Bosch #1, Mickey Haller #1, Inferno, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Just One Evil Act, Gone Girl, An Officer and a Spy, S. J. Watson and Mr. Mercedes.

Meet the Buyers: Fiction

Friday, May 9th, 2014

We want to introduce you to the faces behind the books. First up is one the largest sections, in both stores: Fiction. Meet Simone, Fiction buyer at ABC The Hague, and Renate and Reinoud, Fiction buyers at ABC Amsterdam.

How long have you been the Fiction buyer?

Simone: Since 2000.
Renate: Since 2009.
Reinoud: From 2005 – 2010 and again since 2013.

Which author(s) do you ALWAYS keep in stock?

Simone: James Clavell, Jean Auel, Philip Roth, John Irving, Haruki Murakami.
Renate: Clarice Lispector, Joan Didion, Virginia Woolf, Jonathan Franzen, Lydia Davis.
Reinoud: James Salter, Natsume Soseki, John Updike, Evan S. Connell.

Which author(s) should be read more widely and why?

Simone: Lorrie Moore. She has a unique voice, and a wonderfully quirky use of language. She’s gaining popularity in the US. Hopefully her new short story collection (Bark) will make her more well-known in Europe, too.
Renate: Clarice Lispector because she is Virginia Woolf-meets-Kafka-meets-Joyce, all wrapped in a Brazilian layer of passion. Alejandro Zambra also; every one of his books is a gem. Truly stunning!
Reinoud: Soseki. He is a Japanese author from the Meiji period who wrote the first modern novel. Besides that he pretty much tried every literary style. Oh, Janet Lewis also deserves an audience.

How do you decide what new titles to buy for stock?

Simone: Through customer queries, publisher suggestions, newspaper and/or internet reviews. Anything that has a buzz about it, really.
Renate: I check the positive reviews in the New York Times or the Guardian. I also order books I would love to read (besides the big names you have to have). I want to create a bit of a niche; books that other bookstores wouldn’t have. It’s very much a question of feeling, intuition.
Reinoud: Whatever takes my fancy. (It’s chaos.)

What has been the best-selling Fiction title of 2014 so far?

Simone + Renate + Reinoud: The Circle by Dave Eggers.

Name some hotly-anticipated summer releases.

Simone: The new Murakami, the paperback edition of Bleeding Edge, the small paperback edition of The Circle, Tigerman by Nick Harkaway, and the small paperback of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner, of course.
Renate: The new Francine Prose and the new Rivka Galchen. I’m also waiting for the new editions of Muriel Spark’s works, like The Informed Air, from New Directions press.
Reinoud: Updike by Adam Begley. Updike was a genius.

Ebooks (currently) available for: Bonsai, Botchan, The Circle, Bleeding Edge and Updike.

About Us: Jilles

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

In a series of interviews, we’re going to introduce you to (almost) everyone who works at The American Book Centers in Amsterdam and The Hague.

Books form an integral part of our lives not only because they’re our bread and butter, but because our passion for them came first. Our mission is to pass them on. By reading these interviews you’ll discover the faces behind your favorite sections and get a glimpse of who we are.

Meet Jilles

Where were you born?

I was born in Heemstede, a town near Amsterdam.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?

A slice of toasted bread with young Dutch cheese on it. It still is my favourite :-)

What I hated was every vegetable known to man. That changed quickly when I became a student, moved out of my parents house, and had to cook for myself.

Were you read to as a child?

No. My father was always away for work and my mother had three children within four years, so I guess she just didn’t have the time to split herself up in three persons and read to us.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?

Yes, a lot of kids books and popular fiction. Even a romance novel here and there. I tried one once and was shocked by the racy content of it.

Quick free associations:

Paperbacks: thrillers

Sale: great selection

Magazines: not interested

Price gun: downprices

Cash Register: Ka-ching!

Discount Card: “Do you have one?”

“I’m looking for a book…”: You’re in luck, we just got some in.

What is your connection to books and the written word now?

I write. I’ve published a book (How to Become Happy), I’ve written for TV, and I write for the ABC blog. I love writing.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities in the store?

At the moment I am doing the buying for literature with Renate. We call ourselves JR (still need to make a T-shirt with a picture of JR on the front). In February I will probably move on to the spiritual book section, but that is still a secret, so don’t tell anyone.

What is the best part of your job?

Buying hundreds of new books every week for your section! And I am the first to get them in my hands! The other really good thing is the colleagues I work with. They are the best.

How would you describe your customer service, i.e., how do you do your job in terms of: cars (Ferrari or Fiat?), pastries (Hema or Holtkamp?), or shoes (Puma or Prada)?

I go for the high maintenance customers, the ones who need to be treated with special care, but also need some grounding. And this is where I come in. So call me a Ferrari boy in Puma shoes with a taste for Holtkamp!

When did you start work at ABC?

In 1999 and in 2010. I left after 9 years to live in France for some time. When I came back Lynn – our boss – took me back for a second time without thinking about it, and I am still very grateful to her for that opportunity.

Who is your favorite author? Or who are you reading now?

I used to have favourite authors, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Daniel Silva, Eckhart Tolle, but after a while they either lose their magic, or they aren’t what they used to be, or my taste changed through the years, so these days I go more for a good book, no matter who the writer is. At the moment I am reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer (third time in four months!), The Naked Edge by David Morrell, The Auctioneer by Joan Samson, and Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini. Difficult to stay with one book these days.

What is the opposite of bookselling?

For me books are about learning, about growing, about joy and happiness, so it has to be ignorance and feeling depressed and unhappy.

What do you think people should know about ABC?

That we have a lot of knowledge, because everyone who works here is also a buyer for their favourite section. So you deal with people who know their stuff.

We’re celebrating 40 wonderful years of ideas!

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Join in the fun at the American Book Center’s 40th birthday party on June 9th!

On June 9th 2012, ABC is marking a major milestone – the big 4-0! We’re throwing a birthday party in front of our store on the Spui in Amsterdam, complete with music, balloons, refreshments and plenty of fun for booklovers young and old.

The best part of any birthday celebration is the cake, so we’re putting it in the spotlight. Whether you’re a master baker or simply a lover of sweets, you’re warmly invited to be a part of the festivities.

ABC’s Birthday Cake Competition

Do you think you can bake the perfect birthday cake? Then enter your masterpiece in ABC’s Birthday Cake Competition. Your creation might be one of the 15 finalists to be judged by a professional jury:

World-renowned pastry chef Cees Holtkamp recently won the prestigious Gourmand World Cook Book Award in Paris. Visit Holtkamp’s website for more info on the  Holtkamp family’s patisserie.

Lieke Sniekers, a recent graduate of American Studies, has enjoyed reading English and American literature from an early age. Her love of baking, however, even predates her fondness for language. She baked her first cake around age six, followed by her first yeast loaf. As editor of ELLE Eten magazine, she now feels honored to judge the great ABC bake-off competition.

With a passion for cooking from early childhood Philippe Jacobsz knows good food. He has been a cook for more than 12 years, working for different restaurants in Amsterdam, and is now running his own catering company Mangiabene specializing in Mediterranean cuisine.

So roll up your sleeves and bake the ultimate ABC birthday cake! Interested? Please fill in the Birthday Cake Competition Entry Form and send it to us by 6pm on Sunday June 3rd.

The cakes will be judged based on a number of qualities, including taste, creativity and presentation.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for the most beautiful and delicious cakes will win €100, €50 and €25 in ABC gift certificates. If you are one of the 15 finalists you will also receive a special ABC Birthday goodie bag. Everyone competing will be automatically entered into a special prize draw to win some fabulous baking books.

Cakes for a good cause at the ABC Charity Bake Sale

You can also take part in our bake sale for charity. Donate a cake, some muffins, cookies or other baked goods and we’ll sell them at our party on the Spui in Amsterdam. All proceeds will go to De Open Deur. (You can read more about De Open Deur and why we are supporting them at the bottom of this post.) Everyone who contributes to the bake sale will get a chance to win fabulous baking books.

Please let us know what you’re bringing via our: ABC Charity Bake Sale Entry Form

Agenda Amsterdam
11:00 Charity Bake Sale opens on the Spui
12:15 Winners of Birthday Cake Competition announced
12:30 All competition cakes sliced and sold to the public
13:00 Music and activities to delight and amaze you
15:00 Party ends

We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day on the square. We hope you can join us for a slice of cake!

ABC The Hague

If you can’t join us for the big celebration in Amsterdam do drop by our store in the Hague for balloons, cupcakes and drinks for all our The Hague customers on June 9. We’ll be playing music from 1972 all day and you are invited to sing and play along!

Save the date for ABC’s All-Staff Reunion

If you’ve ever worked at ABC, this is for you: a big part of our four decades of success is thanks to YOU – everyone who contributed their enthusiasm, ideas, sense of humor, or just plain blood, sweat and tears over the years at the American Book Center.

As part of our celebrations for the big 4-0, we’re organizing a get together for all ABC employees, past and present. Please mark your agenda for Friday June 8th, because we can’t wait to see you there! More details will follow in the coming weeks to those who register at reunion40@abc.nl.
Please help us spread the word to other ex-colleagues you may know.

RSVP: Already know you want to attend the ABC alumni drinks? Please send an email to reunion40@abc.nlby June 1 and we’ll put you on the guest list.

We hope to see you at one of our ABC Birthday Parties!
If you are interested to know how The American Book Center started in 1972 and how we developed and changed over the last 40 years check out our “About Us Page”

De Open Deur: House of Compassion

Were you to peer through the little windows of the children’s section at ABC Amsterdam, you would see our close ‘back neighbor’: The American Book Center’s premises are linked with the oldest existing wooden house in The Netherlands, Het Houten Huys. This building, dating from the 1520’s, is home to De Open Deur (The Open Door), an ecclesiastical center which provides support to many people from more than sixty countries.

De Open Deur started about 25 years ago, offering counseling to people with HIV. It was an ecumenical setting for people looking for spiritual help, whatever their religious background, and supplied much needed pastoral care to the gay and lesbian community.

In the 1990’s, refugees found their way to the Open Door’s pastors (both catholic and protestant) and social worker. Over the years it has developed into a House of Compassion, giving long-term counselling to more than 500 clients. Many former asylum seekers who are traumatized by violence in their countries of origin (primarily Angola, Congo, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Somalia) and victims of human trafficking find get practical support in the form of food and shelter, and emotional support when the center’s staff give them a safe place to talk and be listened to. They also provide their clients with free library cards, opening even more doors to learning, comfort and escape through books.

The excellent work of De Open Deur is not subsidized by the government. It relies on donations from charitable  organizations and individuals. As many of our ABC staff and customers were also once new to this country, we’re excited to be able to dedicate the proceeds of our Bake Sale to help them continue to provide their much-needed services.