For some, a bookstore is just a place that sell books; walking into one is pretty much the same as walking into any other. For others – the people who probably spend far too much time in bookstores – the difference is felt before they even cross the threshold.
The American Book Center’s stores always were, and sometimes still are, rather less polished than their rivals.
Bookcases of varying colors, sizes and reliability jostled for space with tables stacked with new titles, and crates full of bargains. Where other bookstores had space, we had books. We still do!
Where there is no space for books we have a constantly changing selection of bookmarks, notebooks, cards, toys and things-you-never-knew-you-wanted-but-now-absolutely-must-have.
For 35 years ABC Amsterdam occupied various spots on the Kalverstraat. Our last store at number 185 is fondly remembered by many customers and staff for its four ramshackle floors filled with kilometers of books and its comfortingly shabby air.
But rents rose, the Kalverstraat changed its personality and we had to look for a new home.
We found it just around the corner, in a historic white building on the corner of the Spui, right in the heart of the book district.
Spui 12 had housed a piano store with many levels, nooks and crannies. We loved it but it wasn’t going to work for us – for a start, books weigh surprisingly more than pianos!
We took the bold step of removing much of the building’s interior and starting again with Yaniv Turgeman, a young architect full of great ideas from ADP. All of ABC’s staff had a say in how the new building would look and work, and the result is a striking space full of light, air and surprises!
We aren’t the only ones who think so! So many people have taken photographs of our impressive book-lined staircase, and our Tree – brought back by ABC Staff from Het Amsterdamsche Bos – that reaches up through the first two floors. And ABC Amsterdam was named the best bookstore in the world by the Irish Independent.
Our store in Den Haag has retained much of its old-fashioned ABC charm while still going through many tweaks and facelifts. Smaller and more compact than ABC Amsterdam, it’s a cozy place to shop, though we still manage to squeeze an amazing number of titles into the space.
In May 2003 we took over part of the building next door and created an annexe of The ABC Amsterdam Treehouse. Den Haag’s ABC Treehut is a one-room multifunctional community meeting place and gallery. While Amsterdam’s Treehouse is in a separate building, the Treehut is actually part of the store, which means a lot to us.