About Us: Paul

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 Paul

Where were you born?
I was born in Purmerend, in a hospital that doesn’t exist anymore.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
Mostly Italian foods, like pizza and pasta. I hated all the healthy vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and sauerkraut.

Were you read to as a child?
Oh yes, almost every night and by both parents.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?
I’m Lynn’s son so we had lots and lots of books. Maybe that’s kind of obvious.

Quick free associations:
a) Paperbacks: I like the format.
b) Sale: Bargains.
c) Magazines: Big variety.
d) Piano: Don’t hear it enough.
e) Price gun: Pain in the butt.
f) Cash Register: I like working behind the cash register on the ground floor a lot.
g) Discount Card: It’s a really good tool.
h) “I’m looking for a book…”: Tell me what you’re looking for.

What is your connection to books and the written word now?
I never used to really like reading. I was more into music. Since getting to know everything in the store, I’ve realized that there’s a good book for everybody, no matter what your interests are.

I’ve been worried about the future of the written word, the digitalization of books and its effects on our business. But now I’m fully confident people will continue reading actual books. I’ve come to this conclusion after working in the store and hearing people say that they prefer books and also from experiencing for myself that I’d rather read from a book instead of reading from a digitized version. I think the printed book will be with us for a long time to come.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities at ABC?
I’m back-up for the architecture and design sections in Amsterdam. I also do the magazines when the regular buyer isn’t around or when there’s no other back-up. I’m warehouse back-up and I’m going to be Den Ilp [a huge warehouse where we keep all of our extra stock of big titles and bargain books] back up. I also drive back and forth from Amsterdam and the Hague with stock and special orders.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part for me is the customer contact. I love seeing customers leave happy and putting smiles on their faces.

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 definitely a luxury car, like a Ferrari. I want customers to feel welcome and comfortable.

How long have you worked at ABC?
Off and on since I was 18 years old, so about 9 years.

Who is your favorite author? Or who are you reading now?
I like Clive Cussler because it’s easy reading and adventurous. I’ve been reading David Morrell. And I like Tess Gerritsen. And Patricia Cornwell. I really enjoy the Kay Scarpetta series.

What is the opposite of bookselling?
Giving something terrible away, instead of selling something good.

What do you think people should know about ABC?
That when people come into the store and get to know our selection, our staff and our special customer service they keep coming back for more.