Today is a bit of a special post! It is a wonderful guest post from the lovely Kimi! I hope you all enjoy part 2 of her Amsterdam Bookshop Hop!
Hoi! Today is the second part of my Amsterdam Bookshop Hop, kindly hosted by my good pal Lois! My name’s Kimi, and I’m a bookseller in Manchester, and I used to have my own blog, but these days I just jump around other peoples. If you want to know a little more about me, I’ve left some links at the bottom of this post.
And what, you may ask, is a Bookshop Hop? Well, as I mentioned, this post is part two of a three-part guest-post series. I’d suggest starting at Part One, which was hosted by the marvellous Fiona, where I prattle on a little bit about how much I love Amsterdam, and why I decided to spend my most recent visit meandering around bookshops. Part Three will be hosted by the lovely Sarah, and then I’ll be doing a bonus post on Katie’s blog, where I’ll be hauling the books I bought, as well as offloading some general bookish musings I had whilst out there.
So without further a-do, I shall launch into what you really clicked on this post for… Bookshops! In Amsterdam!
Waterstones Amsterdam – Kalverstraat 152
It just had to be done. As a Waterstones bookseller myself, I just cannot let a visit to Amsterdam go by without popping into our Amsterdam branch. Some of you may know how my dream in life is to own a floating bookshop in Amsterdam. Well, my back-up plan is to somehow worm my way into a transfer to our store there.
I often describe Waterstones Amsterdam to my colleagues as ‘our store, but kinda shrunk in the wash’. Our store in Manchester, like the Amsterdam store, is based in a grand, historic building, and has several floors. However, where our floors are, quite frankly, massive, Amsterdam’s are a little smaller. But of course, they cram many, many books onto their shelves!
One of the things I love about the Amsterdam store is just how many cute little reading nooks there are tucked away, often with windows looking out onto Spui and Kalverstraat. I also love chatting to my European colleagues… and making it well known how much I want to live there! This visit, one of those colleagues even recommended a bookshop to me that I didn’t have on my list – Scheltema, which I chatted about in part one.
The American Book Center – Spui 12
Almost directly across from Waterstones, is the American Book Center. I have walked past this shop countless times, and never ventured in. I know, absurd. Even more absurd after actually visiting this time around – I never wanted to leave. It is a wonderland for booklovers, and attempting to chose just a few photos to put with this post is going to be hard!
Ash and I got chatting to a couple of the employees, and ended up staying for quite some time just talking books, Amsterdam, bookselling, bookshops… all before we had even passed the counter to get into the bookshop proper. It was such a wonderful welcome, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Full walls full of books, sloped floors that encourage leisurely browsing, knowledgeable and friendly staff… by the time I had reached the first floor I was already in love, and yet when I reached the top floor I had another surprise – not only do they sell books, they make them too! There was a mini-printing press! I basically turned into an excited child at Christmas.
I really could have spent an entire week in that shop alone, and happily told the booksellers so on the way out, but there were other bookshops to explore, so drag myself away I did!
To be honest, I don’t think my semi-coherent gushing about this place really does it justice, so please do drop by if you are ever in Amsterdam. I guarantee that your jaw will hit the floor when you see the huge bookwall at the staircase, too.
Boekhandel van Rossum – Beethovenstraat 32
Boekhandel van Rossum was high, high up on my list of bookshops to visit, mainly because of one thing – a book arch! During my research for this trip, I read so many amazing things about this bookshop, and I have to say that upon arrival, van Rossum did not disappoint.
Run by an American lady, Ruth, the store is the perfect blend of Dutch- and English-language books. Full of little corners, decorated shelves, cosy reading chairs, big airy windows and small dark corners, and of course the fabled book arch!
This is another one of the stops where I got chatting to the booksellers that worked there, and I love, love, love how welcoming Dutch booksellers are when another bookseller comes into their shop! I spent some time with the Children’s Bookseller, talking about the English language YA and MG books that she should get in that I had read, and what was doing well for us over here in the UK. To be honest, my opinion felt more valued in van Rossum than it often does in my own department!
Kayleigh and I had an absolute blast exploring this shop. It was often the little details – old film canisters strung from the ceiling of the Photography section, a magnifying glass dangling above the thrillers – that delighted us the most. Van Rossum is truly as booklovers paradise that I will be visiting every single time that I go to Amsterdam. As Kayleigh said to the booksellers as we were leaving; ‘You’ll be seeing a lot more of me!’
Boekenmarkt – Oudemanhuisport
As soon as I read that there was a book market, I was sold. I knew that we just had to visit. One of my favourite things to do is explore book markets and used book stores, digging around for pre-loved copies of my favourite books (usually, Sherlock Holmes books). No way was I going to miss a chance to find some Dutch treasures at this one!
Tucked away in a covered passageway near the University, Boekenmarkt Oudemanhuisport is a real-live treasure cove. Alcoves packed to the brim (literally!) with used books on everything from children’s fiction to anatomy, Kayleigh and I spent a lot of time digging through boxes and tables of books. Of course, I ended up coming away with a couple – but head on over to my Book Haul on Katie’s blog soon to find out what!
The Boekenmarkt is definitely going to be one of those places that becomes a regular haunt for me. The stock, and often the booksellers, are always changing, so I imagine every visit to be different. That, and it’s just a generally lovely place to be!
So there we have it! The end of Part Two of my Amsterdam Bookshop Hop! Many thanks for reading my ramblings, and a huge cuddle to Lois for hosting me!
When not waffling on other people’s blogs, I can be found podcasting about books with my bookish partner in crime over at A Tale of Two Booksellers. I can be found on Instagram at @coffeeeyesandblankstares (where I pretty much post exclusively about books and cats), and twitter at @kimiallover. You can also follow our podcast on social media: @ataleoftwobooksellers on Instagram, and @TwoBooksellers on Twitter.
Thank you so much to Kimi for writing this excellent post! I loved reading about her journey around the Amsterdam bookshops! Be sure to check out part 1, part 3 and the bonus post as well!