About Us: Peter

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 Peter

Where were you born?
In a hospital in Oldham, near Manchester in the north of England.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
Favorite: steak and kidney pudding. My grandmother use to make it. Hated: eggs in all forms, except when just an ingredient.

Were you read to as a child?
Yes, but the memory is vague. I went through a few phases of reading at about 10, 12 and 14 years of age. Liked it then. But not much now. Reading made me feel like I was disappearing and I didn’t like that. I liked being in the here and now.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?
Yes, books we’d received as gifts, some old novels that had been handed down through the family. And we visited the local lending library.

Quick free associations:
Paperbacks: A pile of books.
Sale: Amsterdam.
Magazines: Ground floor, Ext: 103.
Piano: Film.
Price gun: Reinoud (a co-worker).
Cash Register: Busy.
Discount Card: Cheap.
“I’m looking for a book…”: You’ve come to the right place!

What is your connection to books and the written word now?
Mostly plays, reading and writing them.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities in the store?
My sections are Eastern philosophy, religion, Judaism, Islam, science, health and astrology. I’m also the store’s schedule coordinator.

What is the best part of your job?
Finding books for people they don’t think can be found anymore, like when they only remember one word of the title. Or finding a book that’s been lost in the building. I like finding stuff like that.

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 would not describe my customer service in those terms, just helpful, polite, friendly.

How long have you worked at ABC?
16 years.

Who is your favorite author?
I have a few favorites:
Brian Friel: his dialogue reads like poetry.
Jim Cartwright: tragi-comedy with a real accent.
Woody Allen: makes me laugh out loud.
Spike Milligan: for his sense of the everyday absurd.

What is the opposite of bookselling?
Being on holiday, touring the U.S. in an RV.

What do you think people should know about ABC?
That the buyers themselves decide what goes on the shelves. I think people assume there’s a store policy, somebody in a back office pulling the strings, but the buyers decide by listening to what people are asking for and keeping on top of new titles.