Archive for the ‘Life at ABC’ Category

Carollers at ABC Amsterdam

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Last Sunday, the booksellers of ABC Amsterdam’s First Floor were regaled with a Christmas medley by the lovely carolling group Don’t Mention The NoteAviva was clever enough to make a video of their performance:

Ladies, please come by every holiday season!  What a way to get into the holiday spirit.  :-)

Beatboxing with Wookiees

Friday, November 25th, 2011

As we may have mentioned before, we have awesome customers. And as I think we might have mentioned once or twice lately,  Thanksgiving is our favorite day of the year here at ABC, and yesterday in Amsterdam it was extra special: magic happened on the first floor when a customer grabbed a copy of How To Speak Wookiee and did… this:

It was so fantastic, I had a little mini-geekout right there at the register. Unfortunately, I was so busy helping the hordes of customers storming the cash desk that I couldn’t get away to record the awesomeness as it happened. Or even find out his name.

Luckily one of this guy’s friends gave himself a five second “Intuitively Teach Your Self Mad Camera Skillz For iPhone”course, and the beatboxer was gracious enough to repeat his performance. If you are our fabulous wookie beatboxer, send an e-mail to and introduce yourself, because firstly, we want to let everyone know who you are! And secondly, we would LOVE you to come in again so we can make a kick ass video of you for the whole world to see. And maybe we can get you to do this to How To Speak Zombie too. :-)

The perfect bookstore soundtrack

Monday, October 10th, 2011

At ABC you won’t hear marketing department selected muzak piped in to both stores. You won’t hear any Kenny G or Whitney Houston and you probably won’t hear anything from the weekly top 40.

We like classical music, but we don’t want to hear it all day long. ABC staff are lucky: management doesn’t pick our music. We do. Take a stroll through our Amsterdam store and you’ll hear Andrew Bird, Billie Holiday, Thievery Corporation, Andy McKee, Plan B, David Grey, Kurt Nilsen and Elvis.  And if Tiemen’s working, you might have to listen to Rick Astley or Elton John.

We know that what we play might not be to your taste. If it’s too loud, ask us to turn it down. If it sets your teeth on edge, ask us to change it. If you like it, come and tell us! One of ABC Amsterdam’s resident music addicts, Ward, told us about his bookstore soundtrack.

Finding the right balance as far as playing music in the store is concerned can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you don’t want to scare away the customers with too much distortion and overloud guitars (we don’t sell choppers, after all). On the other, you don’t want to put them to sleep or bore them to death either. Add to this the fact that quite often it turns out that the music that works at home or on your headphones doesn’t seem to work as well in the store, and the challenge for us music-loving booksellers is set. This list, therefore, should be viewed in its context, and is not so much my definitive Top 5  (although some of these albums are definitely in there) as an overview of what I’ve played at work over the last year or two.

The Black Keys – Brothers

Another down and dirty blues-rock album from this dynamic American duo. Opener “Everlasting Light” wastes no time in displaying their brand of economic and infectious songwriting, and pretty much continues where their last album left off. Funky and tight, catchy and accessible, these songs are as strong on the fiftieth listen as they are on the first. If you want to get an idea of what you can expect, check out the excellent first single “Tighten Up.”

Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

This band shares more than just a color with The Black Keys, as both display a keen ear for the past. But where the former channels the blues, Black Mountain wouldn’t stand out on a 70s comp with its mix of psychedelic rock and heavy guitars. Standout tracks are the slow-burning and organ-heavy “Old Fangs” and “Let Spirits Ride,” the latter of which almost manages to sound more like Black Sabbath than Black Sabbath itself. An excellent match to Brothers, I’ve often played these two albums back-to-back.

Bob DylanThe Original Mono Recordings

Next to volume 9 of his ongoing Bootleg Series, 2010 saw the rerelease of Dylan’s first eight albums as they were originally recorded, in mono. Sucker that I am, I of course fell for this obvious marketing ploy, and shelled about 80 euro’s for a bunch of albums I already owned. Then again, this is Dylan we’re talking about, and I’ll take any excuse I can get to listen to any of these gems. Simply put, the best string of albums to have ever been released by one of the most significant artist of the 20th century.

Midlake – The Courage of Others

Following up the absolutely fantastic The Trials of Van Occupanther (without a doubt one of my favorite albums of the noughties), Midlake chose to take British folk rock—complete with flutes!—as their main source of inspiration for this, their third record. Though not as strong as Van Occupanther, The Courage too is quite beautiful in its bleak desolation, and, like its predecessor, continues to grow on you with repeated listens.

The National – High Violet

Beautiful, just like their last one was beautiful, and the one before that, and the one before that…

What music do you think would belong on the perfect bookstore soundtrack?  Share your love of music and blog about it for us. You can pick a mix of albums or songs, or write about one album that you think is perfect for browsing books to. If we use your submission, we’ll send you an ABC gift voucher! (Read the submission rules first!)

Every good bookstore should have a bookstore cat…

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Every good bookstore should have a bookstore cat, but for various reasons, at ABC we’re not able to have one. (Though we do have the adorably grumpy Alley over at the Treehouse who we can visit if we’re in need of some fuzzy love.)

So we were secretly pleased when this curious, scruffy tabby popped into our Amsterdam store.

Manuel (or at least that’s what his tag says he’s called) came for the afternoon from one of the nearby bars, probably looking for a bit of peace and quiet away from the tourists. Either that or he’s hoping that if he hangs around our office long enough, we’ll give him a job as plant trimmer or paper organizer. ;) He’s popped by just about every day since, and none of us can bear to kick him out.  He’s far too bolshy to be put off by a mere kicking out anyway – we try, but no matter how far away we carry him, he trots right back. (If we all keep taking his photo as often as we do, he may get sick of us and leave of his own accord. But until then, we rather like having him around. :) )

Stephen Fry Queue

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Just look at that orderly and very British queue of people waiting to buy Stephen Fry tickets this past Monday morning on the Spui in Amsterdam!  Congratulations to those of you that managed to get their hands on some, and we’re so sorry for the multitudes that didn’t.  :-(

There’s still a chance for those of you that missed out, though: in our upcoming June news mailing, we’ll be giving away 3 sets of 2 tickets to the Stephen Fry event.  You can see previous newsletters right here – and you can sign up on that page, too (top left corner, in the box marked “ABC News Mailing subscribe here!”), if you haven’t already.

Many thanks to Hannie van Herk for sending in the picture!