About Us: Jilles

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.