About Us: Tiemen

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 Tiemen

Where were you born?

I was born in a hospital in Amstelveen. There were no complications and after four weeks my mother went back to work.

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

I loved french fries!!!! Actually, everything with a P: patat, pannenkoeken en poffertjes (french fries, pancakes, mini-Dutch pancakes).

I hated mushroom tart. I love mushrooms and I love tart, but the combination? Yuk!! The idea of mushrooms surrounded by a warm pastry dough doesn’t do it for me. I’m not really into savoury tarts. There was a period when I was crazy about applesauce and my mom tried that together with the mushroom tart. Well, that didn’t work!!!

Were you read to as a child?

Yes, a lot of Ronald Dahl; his short stories and Danny, The Champion of the World. In school my teachers read out loud a lot. At home it was mostly my mother who read to me. My dad got home late.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?

Yes. In the house I grew up in we had a huge bookcase with mostly my parent’s books. There was a small corner for my books. They were mostly picture books because I learned to read much later than most because I was deaf until I was 6 years old. I had an ear canal infection in both ears that went unnoticed. After kindergarten I was sent to a special school where they discovered, in the application process, that it was not my mind, but my ears. It was resolved with a simple operation.

After that I went back to my regular school.

The cool thing about my book corner was that I also fit in the bookcase. My mother has a picture with me in the bookcase surrounded by my books.

Quick free associations:

Paperbacks: Easy to read.
Sale: Kassa.
Magazines: Celebrities.
Price gun: Click-click.
Cash Register: Ka-ching.
Discount Card: “Do you have one?”.
“I’m looking for a book…”: What kind of book are you looking for?

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

I cannot imagine not being able to read. I read to relax and to travel to different places. I read to better understand the world and to be a better person. There are generations before us of accumulated knowledge and it is via books that this knowledge is passed on.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities in the store?

I am the buyer for the Science Fiction & Fantasy section in Amsterdam.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is helping customers and being connected by the passion for books and the subject matter. It’s about sharing this passion of, for example, science fiction and fantasy. It’s great to bring people in contact with the books I love.

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 a Volkswagen: not over the top and not trendy. I’m dependable and I take time for my customers.

How long have you worked at ABC?

I started working for ABC in 2008.

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

I have a few: John Scalzi, Hemingway, Multatuli and Hella Haasse.

What is the opposite of bookselling?

Selling something you don’t have a connection with.

Doing something where you have no bond with the product and therefore no connection with the clientele.

What do you think people should know about ABC?

People should know that our selection is much bigger than what we have in the store. And that when we order something for you there is the added plus of the personal touch: a real voice, a real person helping you.