Archive for the ‘Travel’ 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.

You Review a Local Author: Ready, Steady, Go Dutch – Dutch News & Access

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Reviewed by Patricia Kooyman

Ready, Steady, Go Dutch is not really a book but rather a collection of snippets from a survey among expats living in The Netherlands.

I like the idea of gathering experiences of people with very different backgrounds going through the same experiences, but if you publish such a collection and ask to be paid for it I would have expected you to do some work on it. As it is, it is really only that – a collection of snippets. Very few editorial comments, hardly any synthesis, and the main conclusion? “How you react to the peculiarities of the Dutch way of doing things reflects your own origins”. Now THAT’s an eye-opener!

Yes, some people love a certain fact of life in The Netherlands while others hate that same fact. That would hold for ANY country.

I find some snippets have been formulated rather judgmentally, and I don’t think that’s due to my being Dutch. There are quite a few things in the way ‘we’ run our society that annoy ME on a daily basis, and most of those are indeed addressed in this book.

If you search hard you can find a few useful practical tips hidden in between lots of rather incoherent and not always very logically arranged snippets. Fortunately these are not completely anonymised, so you quickly realise that Victoria thought life would be the same all over the world (and maybe would have done better not to relocate instead of whining about differences between her childhood paradise and real life) whereas French is really trying to give some helpful tips and to enjoy life in a different country. But if you’re looking for practical information you will easily find many websites and forums that offer up-to-date info with useful ‘live’ answers to your particular personal questions. Some of those are listed at the end of the book. And if you’re looking for a relaxed and fun introduction to all that is different to foreigners coming to The Netherlands buy The Undutchables instead. Which fortunately is also in the list of recommended books.

Reviewed by Linda Radwan

Ready, Steady, Go Dutch was a fun book to read. I was amazed at the various experiences of people coming to the Netherlands and their view on the Dutch world. I have to say, being a foreigner myself in the Netherlands makes it easier to relate to some subjects. Yet with most of the subjects I could not relate at all. I think it also depends from which country you originally came from. If you came from the U.S., for example, it is normal to think that the Dutch customer service is low while my experience is that the Dutch customer service is quite high but that is in comparison to my own country. Also the idea of Dutch people being more laid-back in work is strange to me, having experienced nothing more than a truly hardworking, sometimes harsh mentality and exaggerated eagerness to stay late and finish one’s own work. But, once again, it depends from which country you came from.

So in conclusion, I liked the book.  It was fun to read but I could not relate to most of the quotes. Perhaps that is not necessary but I would have liked more similarities that could have made me nod eagerly or make me laugh and think ‘Yes, that is exactly what I thought as well!’. I would have liked to identify myself more with the rest.

If you want to have an idea of what it’s like to live and work in the Netherlands then this book can be confusing because of the different opinions. But if you would like to know what people from different nations and cultures have experienced while living in the Netherlands then this book, thought up by Robin Pascoe and Deborah Valentine, is perfect.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Robin Pascoe is the founder of and presented her book at the first Meet My Book! event this past January.

A large part of the profit from Ready, Steady, Go Dutch will go to volunteer organisation ACCESS to help it continue providing information and advice to expats in the Netherlands.

You Review: Mastering the Art of French Eating – Ann Mah

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Review by Anouschka van Leeuwen

For the food lovers out there, the title of this book should ring a bell, because it is a reference to Julia Child’s famous book in which French cuisine is made accessible for mainstream Americans. Ann Mah, like Julia Child, is the wife of a diplomat, and together with her husband she comes to live in Paris for four years. This is heaven to her, until her husband is called away for a year, leaving Ann alone to discover France.

Out of her love of French food, and as a way to pass the time, Ann sets out to discover the origin of some of France’s most famous dishes. Each chapter in the book is about Ann’s travels to a specific region in France in order to uncover the history of a recipe. Along the way she makes new friends and tries to find her place among the Paris community.

Although each chapter is centered around one dish, they are not to be read as stand-alone stories. An equally large part of each chapter is spent on Ann’s personal musings, or “lessons in love”, as the subtitle of the book depicts. Thus, the reader gets to learn interesting facts about French history, presented through the eyes of an American woman who is essentially an outsider to French culture. I felt like I was travelling alongside the author, sharing in her surprise and sometimes dismay about some of France’s customs. Because of the high information density, I found the best way to enjoy this book was to read one chapter every few days. When I turned the last page, I felt content not only because I had learned a lot, but also because I had read a nice and elegantly written story.

In short, Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris offers a surprisingly entertaining mix of food, history, and romance. I think it is necessary that you enjoy all three of these genres to fully appreciate the book, so not everyone will like it – but if you are one of those people, you are in for a treat!

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Travel, True Crime, Young Adult Fiction

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today we’ve reached the end of our alphabet and you’ll find gift ideas for Travel, True Crime and Young Adult Fiction as picked out by section buyers Tom, RonG and PeterL. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.


You Review: The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Reviewed by David Young

The Sea Inside is a difficult book to categorise – travelogue probably comes closest, although it’s more a kind of stream of consciousness meditation around Philip Hoare’s passion for the sea and the creatures who live in it. He begins in the UK, finding poetry even in the unpromising surroundings of the Fawley Estuary (best known for its oil refinery and petro-chemical plant), before exploring more exotic parts of the world.

Along the way he allows his meditation to take him wherever it will, so the reader is treated to digressions on Ceylonese tea planters, the fate of the Tasmanian tiger and Maori curiosities among others. Throughout it is clear that he has done his research thoroughly (and not just passively – he swims with whales and dolphins and helps to dissect a porpoise) and is a superb story teller, bringing historical events and characters vividly to life.

A recurring theme is the damage humans have inflicted on many sea and other species in the pursuit of food and/or profit, often bringing them to near or total extinction. The delicate balance between man and his environment, and the consequences when that balance is disturbed, is graphically illustrated.

Water and the sea play such an important role in all our lives, but are often overlooked or underestimated. What the author does is to remind us of their importance in an engrossing, enriching, often poetically insightful way. I for one shall never look at the sea through the same eyes again.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.