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.
What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
My favorite food was and still is my mom’s ice cream: vanilla made with loads of condensed milk. I hated rhubarb. The smell lurked in the house when my mother prepared it for my father, who loved it. I still can’t believe it tastes good.
Were you read to as a child?
Oh yeah, my mother read to me before I went to bed, in both Dutch and English, mostly Dutch when I was very young. And after family dinners my brother and I had to read from Faith for Daily Living and its related Bible scripture (after animatedly deciding who got the shorter piece).
Did you have books in your house while growing up?
We had loads of books in the house. My father built his own bookcases which covered the walls of his study. I also had books in my room. My dad read mostly military history and mining books, but also enjoyed a good thriller.
Quick free associations:
Paperbacks: Broken spines and the nice smell that they have in second hand shops.
Sale: I avoid sales and the mass hysteria and chaos usually found there.
Magazines: Girlies. When I first started working for ABC Giorgio instructed me to make a list of all the magazine titles on the shelves. The then 94 titles were an amusing read!
Price gun: I have to think of Rick, because I don’t think he can load a gun yet.
Cash Register: Ka-ching! They make me somewhat nervous because I never use the things.
Discount Card: The database.
“I’m looking for a book?”: Duh.
What is your connection to books and the written word now?
I read a reasonable amount. There’s a lot on my to read list. I usually read before I go to sleep.
What are your responsibilities in the store?
Programming for the ABC intranet with my colleague, Hans.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with Hans and the diversity of what I do. All the programs are made specifically for the store so everything is a custom fit.
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’m not very fast and I tend to check and then re-check my work. Sometimes I get lost in the details. But I enjoy it because it’s stimulating and I learn something. Even the repetitive data entry tasks are welcome because they give my brain a break.
How long have you worked at ABC?
Who is your favorite author?
Michael Marshall Smith. His Sci-Fi is wacky and his thrillers make for very exciting fast reading.
What is the opposite of bookselling?
What do you think people should know about ABC?
That ABC-ers are not all the same. Personalities abound. It’s almost as if there’s an ABC-er for every customer and you see that reflected in their sections. The selection of the store is influenced by both staff and customers!