On Book Shopping in Amsterdam
July 16, 2011 § 15 Comments
It was inevitable that one of my first ports of call on arriving in Holland would be the American Book Centre in Amsterdam, or the ABC for short. This multi-storey bookshop has been a favourite for years, but never more so than now. They have something of everything in there – or actually quite a lot of everything. My favourite part is the first floor section with all the latest sci-fi and fantasy publications.
As the name implies, all these books are imported from the US. That means the average price per book is pretty expensive. Additionally much of the stock seems to be new releases or long-term favourites – there isn’t that much back stock. However, there are two reasons why it’s a blessing for expats like me:
1) They have a membership scheme offering a year-long 10% discount for an upfront fee of seven euros. Really? Seven? I’d save that much back on a single trip.
2) They have a really excellent discount section.
See, the branches of Waterstones at home frequently had book sales and discount tables but the majority of the stuff discounted was total tat. Celebrity (auto)biographies, throwaway gift books about stupid things, leftover copies of the latest rubbish ‘bestseller’. Not worth the time it took to look through them. The advantage to the ABC’s apparent shelf-stocking policy is that the discounted stock is usually just the older books that haven’t sold yet. Every time I go I find something I really want to read, for a few euros per book. It’s great.
On last week’s trip I managed to get:
– Elfland by Freda Warrington. Freda is one of my favourite authors and typically I try to read everything by her (sooner or later).
– The House on Durrow Street, by Galen Beckett. I’ve never read this author, but the premise really interested me. Here’s another advantage to the ABC: it appears this series of books was only ever published in the US, so I wouldn’t have been able to get it at home unless I imported it myself (expensive).
– Wizard Squared by K. E. Mills. I read the first book in this series a few weeks ago and I’m looking forward to reading the other three.
– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve read this book before, a few years ago. I borrowed a copy at the time and I’ve been meaning to get my own ever since. I bought this one so I can read it again, then finally read the sequel. I will subsequently force my partner to read it too.
Not bad, eh? Nothing cheers me up like a good book haul. Incidentally, there’s a branch of Waterstones just around the corner from the ABC, which is also terrifically expensive, but it’s like a little slice of home with its floor-to-ceiling book shelves and British editions of the latest releases. There’s a shelf full of the same beautiful cloth-bound classics that I’ve spent months making eyes at in England. AND! They appear to have started selling some British food. Tea, gravy granules, jam and English chocolate – many of the things it’s hard to get and equally hard to live without. What could be better than a multi-storey British bookshop with added Brit-food content?
In short, everything is going pretty well on the book front so far. Even better, there’s a second-hand expatriate-owned bookshop somewhere in Amsterdam that I still want to find (called The Book Exchange). Reportedly very good for English books. That’s in addition to the many second-hand bookshops in Amsterdam containing a mix of Dutch and English books, and of course the book market that takes place on some Fridays in the month.
Does it seem strange that identifying the best bookshopping venues was top of my priority list when I got here – right up there with buying an oven and figuring out where the nearest supermarket is? That’s book addiction for you. As long as I’ve got plenty to read, I’ll be more or less okay. And it looks like I won’t run out of reading anytime soon.