Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category


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.

About Us: Jeroen W

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

In a series of interviews conducted by ABC’s Maria Minaya, 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 Jeroen W

Where were you born?
I was born in Hengelo, and since that’s in Twente, that makes me a Tukker. Tukkers are the Dutch equivalent of hobbits. Not that we’re small. We just eat and drink a lot and are backward in an endearing way. Also, we have hairy feet.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
Arretjescake! It’s a kind of cake my mother makes that consists mostly of cocoa, butter, raw eggs and biscuits. The nightmare of any decent hardworking coronary artery.

I didn’t like (and still don’t like) bell peppers. Or pineapple.

Were you read to as a child?
When I was little my mother always told me stories about a squirrel, but she made them up herself. I think I was only read to in primary school. Although, a few months back, my girlfriend and I took turns reading a really awful romance novel to each other. We didn’t finish it. At least, I didn’t.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?
Yes, mostly Agatha Christie; my mother devoured them. My father only read the paper. We regularly went to the library, where I borrowed completely age-inappropriate SF-novels. I always angrily skipped over the sex scenes; wondering why someone would write about naked women when you could use that space for more fights and adventure! My priorities were different then.

Quick free associations:
Paperbacks: Cheap!
Sale: Yellow pricetags.
Magazines: SciFiNow!
Price gun: Hey Joe, where are you going with that pricegun in your hand?
Cash Register: ring
Discount Card: My awful handwriting.
“I’m looking for a book…”: Always a challenge not to reply with“Oh really?”

What is your connection to books and the written word now?
Well, I read a lot. Books as well as newspapers, articles online, magazines. I always carry a book with me wherever I go. Going on any kind of a journey without having something to read is unthinkable to me.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities in the store?
I buy the Science Fiction and Fantasy books in The Hague and sometimes I work in Amsterdam, doing this and that, but mostly helping customers.

What is the best part of your job?
Helping customers find what they want, especially when they didn’t know they wanted it until I told them so.

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’m a pitbull, I’ll hang on to a customer until I’m sure they get what they want.

When did you start work at ABC?
I started in July 2011.

Who is your favorite author? Or who are you reading now?
My favorite authors are: Terry Pratchett, George R. R. Martin, Chris Ware, John Steinbeck, Daniel Clowes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alan Moore, William Gibson, and Gerard Reve.

What is the opposite of bookselling?
Stealing televisions.

What do you think people should know about ABC?
We care just as much about books as our customers do! Please ask us anything you like and tip us about any books you think we should have, but don’t!

About Us: Jouke

Friday, March 9th, 2012

In a series of interviews conducted by ABC’s Maria Minaya, 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 Jouke

Where were you born?

In a hospital in a small town outside of Eindhoven.

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

Cornflakes for breakfast, sandwiches with peanut butter and sambal for lunch, lasagna for dinner.

Not a fan of green beans. Dipping them in apple sauce helped.

Were you read to as a child?

Yes, my father would read Paulus de Boskabouter to us, doing all the different voices for the animals and Paulus and Eucalypta the Witch.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?

Yes. An insanely massive collection of Dutch comics. And we read books from the local library.

Quick free associations:

Paperbacks: I like pockets.
Sale: Preferably.
Magazines: I don’t really care for magazines nowadays.
Price gun: I love unpacking the boxes that come in in the shipment. Scanning in the books and using the price gun is part of that.
Cash Register: Customers.
Discount Card: -10%.
“I’m looking for a book…”: Let’s see if we can find it.

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

I go through cycles of voracious reading and then reading hardly at all. I guess I’m sort of manic.

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

I am the buyer at ABC The Hague for Thrillers(/Crime/Mystery//Suspense), Business and Economics, Law, Ancient History, Mythology, Game Novels, Board Games.

And I am the back-up buyer for Philosophy, Religion, Horror, Humor, Sports.

What is the best part of your job?

Meeting friendly people and hopefully make them happy. Seeing good books being bought, knowing their readers will most likely have an excellent time with them.

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’d like to think I’m a helicopter: I’ll take you where you wish to go, fast, while broadening your horizon.

When did you start work at ABC?

March 2009.

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

I have favorite characters, more than favorite authors, I guess. Harry Bosch, James “Sandman Slim” Stark, Calvin & Hobbes, Harry Hole, Vin, Jaime Lannister, Harry Dresden. And many more.

What is the opposite of bookselling?

I don’t know. Is this where I am supposed to think of something clever or creative…?

What do you think people should know about ABC?

We can order books (even second hand ones) that we do not stock, free of charge. And possibly even print them on the spot.

About Us: Tiemen

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

In a series of interviews conducted by ABC’s Maria Minaya, 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 Tiemen

Where were you born?

I was born in a hospital in Amstelveen. There were no complications and after four weeks my mother went back to work.

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

I loved french fries!!!! Actually, everything with a P: patat, pannenkoeken en poffertjes (french fries, pancakes, mini-Dutch pancakes).

I hated mushroom tart. I love mushrooms and I love tart, but the combination? Yuk!! The idea of mushrooms surrounded by a warm pastry dough doesn’t do it for me. I’m not really into savoury tarts. There was a period when I was crazy about applesauce and my mom tried that together with the mushroom tart. Well, that didn’t work!!!

Were you read to as a child?

Yes, a lot of Ronald Dahl; his short stories and Danny, The Champion of the World. In school my teachers read out loud a lot. At home it was mostly my mother who read to me. My dad got home late.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?

Yes. In the house I grew up in we had a huge bookcase with mostly my parent’s books. There was a small corner for my books. They were mostly picture books because I learned to read much later than most because I was deaf until I was 6 years old. I had an ear canal infection in both ears that went unnoticed. After kindergarten I was sent to a special school where they discovered, in the application process, that it was not my mind, but my ears. It was resolved with a simple operation.

After that I went back to my regular school.

The cool thing about my book corner was that I also fit in the bookcase. My mother has a picture with me in the bookcase surrounded by my books.

Quick free associations:

(more…)