About Us: Maarten

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 Maarten

Where were you born?
I was born in Amsterdam Noord, in the same house my mother still lives in.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
For my birthday I always chose to eat poffertjes (mini-pancakes served with butter and confectioner’s sugar). There wasn’t much I didn’t like to eat although I pretended to not like certain things because I think that’s part of your job as a kid. Wait, I did not like Postelein (Purslane, a kind of lettuce). I don’t know the English word but it’s a spinach wanna-be that tastes like dirt.

Were you read to as a child?
Yes, absolutely. Both of my parents were teachers, but I was read to mostly by my mother who was a primary school teacher.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?
We had books in the house, not many but we did have them. We were one of the few people in the village that had books.

Quick free associations: 

Sale: Customers love it, although it breaks my heart to price books down.
Magazines: Necessary, but difficult to maintain.
Piano: Pass.
Price gun: Love/hate relationship.
Cash Register: Easy.
Discount Card: One of the best things we have.
“I’m looking for a book?”: You’ve come to the right place!

What is your connection to books and the written word now?
I have about three thousand books at home and my apartment is 26 square meters. I love books but I buy more than I can read. On average, I read a book and a half a week. When I was younger I never really read much, but I started reading more when I went to university. Then I got into buying second-hand books and couldn’t resist the bargains. I buy books now and figure I can always read them later. I guess you could say I’m into the hunt.

What sections do you oversee at ABC Amsterdam?
Business, History (except for North America and Europe), Intelligence, Political Science, Social Science, True Crime, Controversial Knowledge, Magic & Occult.

What is the best part of your job?
Putting up books. This may have to do with the fact that I can’t do this in my own house because my shelves are so full. So for me putting up books is the best part of my job.

How would you describe your customer service?
My service is down-to-earth, practical and no-nonsense.

How long have you worked at ABC?
Almost six years.

Who is your favorite author? Or what are you reading now?
I am reading Sherlock Holmes stories and everything about Sherlock Holmes, including spoofs and un-authorized biographies.

What is the opposite of bookselling?

Amazon, because it has nothing to do with selling books. They are just selling a product.

What do you think people should know about ABC?
We are all book lovers and this is what makes us so good.