A Big Thank You from All of Us!
We watched the weather reports closely as the big day approached. On Friday June 8 the weather was not too bad. There was gorgeous weather predicted for Sunday June 10. But on June 9, the day of the party celebrating The American Book Center’s 40th birthday, the weather was typically Dutch: windy, cold, and for a good part of the day, wet.
We had been preparing for months. There were the preparations you saw: the press releases, the e-mails, and the celebratory €5 gift voucher we sent to all of our registered customers. We asked you to bake us something yummy for charity or to enter our first baking competition, and above all, to come celebrate 40 years of ABC with us on Saturday June 9. And then there were the hours, days and weeks of preparation that went on behind the scenes. Some of our plans didn’t come together: Steryoga’s planned sessions for kids had to be cancelled because it was simply too chilly outside, and the Smaakbus never got to drive onto the Spui because the council eventually refused them a permit. Everything else went beautifully: the palm and tarot readings were enjoyed by many people, the Rietveld Academy’s sculptures were awesome, and Ottograph’s art was amazing. And as always, we improvised and adjusted… and we partied!
It was so much fun! People came by to congratulate us and brought flowers. We worked our booties off but it was so worth it. Thanks to everyone who made this an unforgettable day! Shall we do it again next year?
We had our cake and ate it too!
One of the best parts of any birthday celebration is the cake, and that was definitely the case on our 40th birthday!
Sixteen contestants submitted their creations to our ABC Birthday Cake Competition, held on in Amsterdam on June 9th 2012. Professionals and amateurs competed for prizes that included generous ABC Gift certificates and beautiful cookbooks.
The judges were amazed by the creativity and quality of the cakes entered into the competition. There was a fabulous creation with the ABC logo on the outside, covering a delightful red white and blue Stars & Stripes concoction on the inside! We also had a Nutella and Pistachio cake from Sicily, fruity cakes, chocolate cake, coffee cake, a pink rainbow cake, a Boston Cream Pie, and a Boston Tea Party cake! One contestant gave a very personal twist to the assignment and submitted a cake made from sushi! And of course, there were clever cakes made in the shape of books. When all the cakes had been set up, the stand on the Spui looked irresistibly gorgeous and delicious!
The judges Casper Holtkamp, Lieke Sniekers and Philippe Jacobsz had the challenging but enjoyable task of judging each cake for presentation, taste and texture. It was such a difficult job that it took them ninety minutes of munching and mulling to reach a unanimous decision and announce the winners. Click here to read Casper Holtkamp’s experiences on his blog, Catch52 (in Dutch).
Third prize went to Mary-Ann Gerding for her pandan and coconut cake called Little Sweets. Our second prize was given to a lovely summery strawberry cake made by Corinna Amoroso. The first prize was awarded to Daniel Dolan who made a classic carrot cake jazzed up with a birthday wish for ABC.
As well as a cake competition, we had invited submissions for a charity bake sale, to be held in aid of one of our favorite charities. After the prize-giving ceremony, all the cakes from the contest were sliced up and sold. Together with the home-made treats had been so kindly donated by customers and staff, and some very generous cash donations, we raised an astonishing € 1500! This will go to our neighbors, De Open Deur, whose volunteers were at the party to help everything run smoothly.
The Rietveld Academy’s concocted an “Edible” Book Sculpture
Students from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Department of Architectural Design had originally planned to build an enormous rainbow of books on the Spui for us on our birthday. However, the windy conditions and the sheer number of books that had to be sorted by color (including more black and white ones than we had anticipated!) soon brought those plans crashing. Teacher Henri Snel changed the assignment: the students would create an installation composed of individual book sculptures, as tall as they could go. Student Pierre-Clément Nivière went all out, determined that his would be the tallest sculpture. His first attempt collapsed, but he tried again and eventually gleefully succeeded. Party-goers and passers by watched the students at work, taking photos and talking about their efforts. It really was fascinating to see!
The sculpture looked fantastic spread out across the pretty tree-lined square in the heart of the city, but it was soon to be dismantled. However, this happened in the most fun way possible. As our birthday treat to our customers, everyone was invited to take a book from the tumbled towers and keep it, for free. This unique giveaway was appreciated by everyone, especially the avid readers, since there were some fabulous books to choose from: literally piles of great sci-fi and fiction, and also a good selection of classic history and social science titles too. Of course, there were some titles left on the ground and not taken away, in particular a charmingly dated gay guide and a how-to manual on paying zero taxes in the USA.We hope those of you who took part of the sculpture home with you enjoy your unique gift, and perhaps pass on some of the books so that their words can be free.
Graffiti artist Ottograph left his mark
No, it’s not a sticker! Look at the photos and you will see how large-scale muralist Ottograph turned our store window into an original work of art, live at our birthday party.
Ottograph has been slinging paint since the age of ten, and has become an internationally sought-after artist in the global street and graffiti art movement. Simultaneously though, Ottograph has bridged the fine art gap with his work: The Modern Art Museum of Antwerp (Belgium) is home to a giant Ottograph mural. Otto has also painted murals in Moscow, Tokyo, Berlin New York and San Francisco. You can guess how honored and delighted to have him paint for us – it was a real birthday treat!
ABC The Hague
At ABC The Hague we all truly enjoyed listening to music from 1972 all day, everyone enjoyed the festive balloons, and the cupcakes by The American Baking Company were a great treat for all our customers as well! (We did, in the end, share the cupcakes with customers. It took some authentic Dutch Poldermodel debating, though, since they were very yummy and terribly cute, too.) We thank all the customers for coming to the store on this special day!
Despite the squally weather, we had a wonderful birthday. Thank you to everyone who joined in – we so enjoyed celebrating this milestone with you!
The Dutch booktrade’s magazine Boekblad was at the party and took some wonderful photographs. You can see them on boekblad.nl. For all the photos we took on the day, visit our flickr page! And, finally, below is the video of the celebrations on the Spui in Amsterdam, made by Kim Westerweel. You can also see it, and earlier videos, on our You Tube channel.