About Us: Simone

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 Simone

Where were you born?
I was born in The Hague.

What was your favorite food as a kid and what did you hate?
I liked rösti (a grated potato dish shaped into patties and fried) and Dutch pancakes. I hated and still hate purslane. The smell is awful and it’s the only thing that I won’t eat.

Were you read to as a child?
Probably, but I don’t recall. What I do remember is that I read a lot and that I read before I started going to school. My parents owned a bookstore annexed to the house. Whenever I wanted I went there and chose a book.

Did you have books in your house while growing up?
Did we have books in the house? We had a bookstore as part of the house. So, yes we had many, many books around when I was growing up.

Quick free associations:
Paperbacks: Great.
Sale: Greed and curiosity.
Magazines: Big section, customer magnet.
Piano: We don’t have one.
Price gun: I’m the price gun master!
Cash Register: I enjoy working at the register.
Discount Card: Very popular.
“I’m looking for a book…”: Bring it on!

What is your connection to books and the written word now?
I read. I don’t write. I usually read three books at the same time and I try to read two books a month. It’s tricky though because sometimes I have a lot on my mind and then the book may not fit my mood which slows my progress a bit.

What sections do you oversee and what are your other responsibilities in the store?
My sections are fiction, cookbooks and non-books. That is to say notebooks, cards and food. I’m also the store manager with Martijn in the Hague.

What is the best part of your job?
I like being a buyer and training staff, then watching how staff members grow in the store and as people in the ABC environment.

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 give very good customer service partly because I try to give them the best and most complete answer I can. I never let people leave empty handed when it comes to information even if we don’t have the book. I try to give the customer what they want even if it is not about a sale. I want the customer remembering that we’re helpful.

How long have you worked at ABC?
Sixteen years.

Who is your favorite author? Or what are you reading now?
I’m reading Anita Brookner at the moment as well as Margaret Drabble. I prefer to read female writers although I also read male authors occasionally.

What is the opposite of bookselling?
Working on a factory assembly line.

What do you think people should know about ABC?
Most of our staff really want to work at ABC. We don’t just do a job. It’s about helping people and passing on our passion for books.