When in Amsterdam has always marvelled at the number of book shops walking and touring around Amsterdam. In a time of digital media with print media and information delivery changing it is comforting to see the book shops still open and smelling of old and new books.
Recently the website Flavorwire released their '20 Most Beautiful Bookshops of the world'. Amsterdam was represented with the American Book Center, or ABC as it is commonly referred to by locals. Favorwire is run by Flavopill an organisation that 'covers cultural events, arts, books, music and world news'. For many English speakers ABC is a home away from home.
|Ground Floor of ABC|
photo taken from Favorwire.com
The American Book Center is only one of many independent bookshops in Amsterdam. Established in 1972 by two Americans it is today one of the largest independent book shops in the Netherlands. They are family owned and fiercely independent.The owner compares the book shop to a piece of bamboo, strong but flexible.
In a time when bookshops are closing due to the digital age ABC is well worth a visit for any book lover on a trip to Amsterdam.
Many people see Amsterdam's Coffeeshops (places to buy hash and marijana) as a symbol of the city's liberalism. There are more bookshops in Amsterdam than Coffeeshops and it the books that really demonstrate Amsterdam's and the Netherlands' liberal history.
During the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century Amsterdam and Holland were a beacon of free thinking. The lack of censorship allowed books to be published in the country that others thought inappropriate for their own countries. Many of the Enlightenment Philosophers such as Descartes and Rousseau visited Amsterdam many times. Amsterdam too produced Spinoza who was famous for his work on Ethics and how to find happiness.
In the 1930s many German writers that the Nazis had exiled came to Amsterdam to write and or publish their books. Bertolt Brecht, the play write, is the most famous.
In 2008 Amsterdam was recognised for it's history of literature and was the World Book Capital. Announced by the United Nations cultural organ UNESCO. 2012 World Book capital is is Yerevan, Armenia.
When in Amsterdam...marvel at the bookshops as a sign of free thinking and liberalism!