In a series of interviews conducted by ABC’s Maria Minaya, 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.
I was born in a hospital in Amersfoort in the province of Utrecht. Actually, it’s a funny story. I’m really interested in other countries and cultures. As it turns out, the doctor who delivered me was Polish and had just returned from Africa. While there he delivered babies the way they did locally, by pulling out the afterbirth after the baby was born. He delivered me the same way. So I figure this is the source of my interest in other cultures, because I was delivered by a Polish doctor who had just been to Africa.
What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
I loved and still love rice crackers with peanut butter. And I loved french fries with mayonnaise. It was special because we were not allowed to eat it often. I also loved apple juice and fresh red peppers. I hated Brussels sprouts, cabbage and any kind of fatty sausage.
Were you read to as a child?
Yes, I was read to but not every night. My father has a very vivid imagination. He is a good storyteller so he’d also tell me stories. There was this series of stories he would tell about this little girl and what happened to her if she was naughty. So, looking back they were quite moralistic! They were actually about me, but I don’t think I realized this when I was little.
Did you have books in your house while growing up?
Yeah, we had a lot of books in the house. Both my parents love to read. I was stimulated to read as a child and absolutely loved it.
Quick free associations:
Magazines: I don’t know where they are.
Price gun: Click, click and Reinoud (a co-worker).
Cash Register: Sales.
Discount Card: Do you have it with you?
“I’m looking for a book…”: Of course you are, you’re in a bookstore!
What is your connection to books and the written word now?
I love books because they inspire and enrich. If a story is fiction but changes how you think about something or see the world it becomes real because it becomes part of your life and world view. Spiritual and self-help books provide helpful takes on life that enable growth. Books are an anchor in my life. I feel at home with them. And I work in a bookstore so I can help others enrich their own lives.
What sections do you oversee in Amsterdam?
My sections are Bodywork and Consciousness which includes Christ Consciousness, Tarot, The Angels and Shamanism. Basically, Spirituality plus Bodywork.
What is the best part of your job?
That I now have the opportunity to organize events/book discussions in the Treehouse on spirituality. Because it creates a platform where people can get together and share their experiences. I also really enjoy buying books for my sections and talking to customers interested in them. For me, conscious living is not only a section in the bookstore but a way of life.
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 think I give good customer service because I really like to help and interact with people.
How long have you worked at ABC?
About five years.
Who is your favorite author? Or what are you reading now?
What is the opposite of bookselling?
That would be working at a gas station at night along a highway in the middle of nowhere pregnantwith danger and surrounded by putrid smells; a cold lifeless place without hope.
What do you think people should know about ABC?
That we’re truly a business with a vision. And in my opinion this vision is that the ABC gives back to the community by making people happy with their books. The ABC provides a venue where people can relax and nourish themselves with new ideas.