There’s a lot of ways to kill walk-by business and one of them is having heavy duty construction right in front of your shop for as long as The Bookstore Exchange has had—13 months and counting. This second hand, English-language bookstore (photo), apparently the largest on the European continent with over 80,000 books, located near the Faculty of Sociology of the Universiteit van Amsterdam has been around since 1978 and is going bankrupt due to this construction.
Run by Jeff, a perfectly integrated American—a real ‘Amsterdammer’—who has been living in the capital for 30 years, said in November already to different media that he was as good as bankrupt. The construction blocks the view of his shop window and so passers-by don’t just pop in anymore, never mind the sand from the construction outside that gets into books, the noise and what have you. In a city with 1.5 million tourists a year, being invisible is deadly. The City of Amsterdam has no intention of compensating the mess they are still making for something that was scheduled to be finished by end of 2007.
Sources tell us that Jeff has neither the time nor money nor energy to fight against the bureaucrats and we get that. The closing of his shop is not just his loss, but a loss for anyone who enjoys hard to find English-language books. Apparently, the source of pride from being able to say that the continent’s biggest second-hand English-language bookshop is in Amsterdam and the labour of love built by Jeff himself means nothing to bureaucrats who can’t even finished projects on time or within budgets anymore. We won’t get into the hugely delayed North-South metro line, which literally put people out of their sinking homes and ruining other businesses.
Christmas is around the corner and so I invite you to check out The Book Exchange in Amsterdam (click on the link for directions). It’s short walk from Central Station. We plan to do so as well.
More info: bookexchange.nl. Thanks to my friend Nathalie for pointing this out!