About Us: Renate

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.

Meet Renate

Where were you born?

I was born in Groningen. Way up in the north of the Netherlands.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?

I love chicken. My favorite was my mother’s Indonesian chicken and it still is. As a kid I hated coconuts. Now I like them, but not when I was little.

Were you read to as a child?

Yes, not that much because I don’t remember all the stories. I was read to every now and then.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?

No, we didn’t have many books. We had some children’s books. My parents read very little, but they took me to the library every week.

Quick free associations:

Paperbacks: Brown.
Sale: Messy.
Magazines: Vogue.
Piano: Music.
Price gun: Noisy and Reinoud (a co-worker).
Cash Register: Money.
Discount Card: Words I say every day.

“I’m looking for a book…”: A book?

What is your connection to books and the written word now?

I studied English literature and I’ve always had a connection to the written word. I read a book about every two weeks. Of course I’d like to read more and this frustrates me because there are so many books I want to read. I read what I can.

What sections do you oversee?

My sections are Fiction, Poetry, and Memoirs.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part is just being in the store, helping customers and being around books. There is also always something to do. It never gets boring.

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’m like a teddy bear or a cute cat. I’m sweet, funny and approachable.

How long have you worked at ABC?

Eight months.

Who is your favorite author? Or what are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It’s very funny – hilarious actually. One of my favorite novels is Atonement by Ian McEwan. I also love Tipping the Velvet and Affinity by Sarah Waters. She’s great. She writes these neo-Victorian, lesbian novels. It’s great, saucy and daring. I also love Jane Austen. I like Victorian literature a lot, Henry Fielding, Fanny Burney, Thackeray and Sterne. There’s always this gender question that’s interesting to me. I also liked The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones and Kafka on the Shore by Murakami.

What is the opposite of bookselling?

Making a lot of money. Bookselling doesn’t pay much. It’s something you have to love.

What do you think people should know about ABC?

I think customers don’t know that we have several buyers, that everyone has and orders for their own section. Most customers think one person or a few people order everything. When actually every bookseller is really a part of the store.