Archive for the ‘Spotlight’ Category


Spotlight on… Halloween

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Hey Halloween fans!  On the ground floor at ABC Amsterdam there’s a little display of Halloween-themed books!

Some of the titles you can find here are:

Come and have a browse (before November 1st, of course) for some spooky stories, costume inspirations and some more light-hearted Halloween fare.

Meet the Buyers: Children’s Books

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

One of the most fun sections we have in either store is the Children’s Books section (0 – 12 years). Two ladies make sure you and your children always have an abundance of choice:

Meet Lília from ABC The Hague and Shirley from ABC Amsterdam!

How long have you been the buyer for the Children’s Books section?

Lília: I think since 2001.

Shirley: Since late 2011.

What was your favorite book growing up?

Lília: As Reinações de Narizinho by Monteiro Lobato (English title: Adventures of Little Nose, but sadly not in print at the moment). It’s a quirky and fantastical story about a little girl. My favorite character is her doll, Emilia, who comes to life and starts talking – a lot! And there is a viscount made of an empty corn cob who also comes to life and falls in love with the doll and he’s very wise because he has read all the books in the library.

Shirley: I used to love to read to the other kids in my neighborhood. They would gather on my bed and I would read poems. I loved reading to them aloud because I could use strange voices and act really silly! So Annie M. G. Schmidt was a favorite. In Dutch there are a lot of children’s poetry books and anthologies. Somehow I cannot find those kind of ‘versjes’ in English…

Which authors or series do you try to keep in stock at all times?

Lília: Sandra Boynton, Julia Donaldson, Eric Carle, Baby Einstein’s Alphabooks, general bedtime stories and nursery rhymes (like those by Debi Gliori), Cressida Cowell, Jeff Kinney and Geronimo Stilton.

Shirley: Roald Dahl, the Spirit Animal series (written by different authors), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Philip Ardagh’s Eddie Dickens books, the Dork Diaries, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and the Tom Gates series.

Which authors or series deserve a bigger audience?

Lília: Peter Lerangis’s Seven Wonders series and Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Those books are filled with wonderful, adventurous stories, and nicely written.

Shirley: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s from 2001, but such a fun series and so beautifully published (I only buy the little hardcovers). Chris Riddell’s Ottoline books are also wonderfully funny and beautifully illustrated and designed. I love Tony Blundell’s picture books Beware of Girls and Beware of Boys, too. Little Red Riding Hood’s Big Bad Wolf is sent on increasingly crazy quests. And William Joyce’s Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, in which the bottom line that reading stories and books enriches everyone’s life is so true! The app that was developed by the book’s publisher, Moonbot Studios, is incredible, too. A great interactive experience, in which you can turn the pages of all the books Morris keeps and takes care of and if you click a specific title the book comes alive! The art work is amazing and it does not surprise me that they won many awards.

How important are children’s book illustrators, and do you have a favorite?

Lília: They are very important but everyone has their own style and charm. My personal favorites include Fiep Westendorp, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, Maurice Sendak and Mo Willems.

Shirley: Apart from the little ones, nine- to twelve-year-olds love to see more than just text, like illustrated diaries or poems. I personally love the picture books by Chris Haughton. He always makes such beautiful books! The illustrations are very simple and often drawn in one colour. Very interesting and catchy, I think.

What have been the best-sellers so far in 2014?

Lília: The Kumon Math and Reading workbooks, the small classics series, the Usborne Young Readers CD-books and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

Shirley: The Dutch books translated into English, like Jip and Janneke, Miffy and The Cow Who Fell In the Canal.

What new titles are you eagerly awaiting?

Lília: The Long Haul, the newest book of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series! It will be on sale November 5th.

Shirley: The Dutch bestseller Muizenhuis will be published in English as Mouse Mansion in November. Keith Richards also wrote a children’s book together with his daughter that just came in, called Gus & Me. And of course the new Wimpy Kid!

There are ebooks available for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and other Roald Dahl titles), Wild Born (and other titles in the Spirit Animals series), and The Bad Beginning (and other titles in A Series of Unfortunate Events).

This post first appeared in our October 2014 News Mailing.

Should you judge a book by its cover color?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

In July this year our store in Amsterdam had a great window: Blue books everywhere and some accompanying questions like “I’m looking for a book I saw here the other day, the blue one” or “I don’t remember the title, but it was blue.”  Believe it or not, we do get these kind of questions quite often. That shows you how important the cover, and certainly the color, is as part of the book.

As a follow-up to the blue window, two colleagues of the The Hague store, Simone and myself, got the idea to add some permanent color to the ABC’s website recommendations. Under the “C” you will now find nine lists, all made up of books sorted by cover color.

While adding these recommendations I noticed that the cover colors are ’section sensitive’. For instance, you’ll find a lot of blue and black books in the Business/Economics section, and most other non-fiction sections -come to think of it- harboring books that want to send out a message of dependability, authority and intelligence. Black is also often seen in covers of Sci-Fi books -the color of  space out there? ;-) - and Thrillers, where death and grief is often an issue. In the Psychology and Health sections you will see a lot of the color white, mostly associated with calm, space and peacefulness.

You can probably guess the most used color in the Nature/Gardening section: that’s right, green, the color of nature, trees, plants and grass. (And grass = soccer = green covers in the Sports section as well.)  And what about pink? Well, it’s a feminine color and therefore the color of a lot of style and fashion books and, of course, ideal for the Romance books, except for the really hot and steamy ones, which often have -blush- red (don’t forget the firemen) on their covers.

That said, most of our beloved books aren’t just one color and knowing what some colors mean, they aren’t always relevant to the content of the book. Sometimes the colors are just nice and/or go well together. So, although colors might be used for strategic and commercial purposes, don’t stare yourself blind (oh my gosh, a pun!) on them.

(Read more about cover colors here.)

Spotlight on… Illustration

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Where before they were divided between the Art, Design, Fashion and even Children’s Books, we now finally have a real Illustration books section at ABC Amsterdam. Here you’ll find books by classic illustrators such as Charley Harper and Norman Rockwell as well as contemporary illustrators published by UK’s Nobrow. Infographics and some very lovely children’s books are represented here too; we’re especially excited about Gestalten’s new children’s books: Little Gestalten. One of their first titles coming up is Issun Boshi: The One-Inch Boy.

- Jesse, Art and Fashion & Beauty Buyer at ABC Amsterdam

Available now:

Coming soon:


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.