A small library

1507littlelibraryI spotted a small library offering books or children’s toys on a wander near Sarpharti Park. The sign asks for a small donation to be put through the letterbox – or you can exchange a book.

It’s such a generous idea, I immediately wanted to donate the pile of books I’ve finished reading – I usually release books I no longer want into the wild via Bookcrossing.

There are “Little Free Libraries” all over the world, and although this is not registered as part of that scheme it’s a similar idea. There are five official Little Free Libraries listed in the Netherlands; Zutphen, Nijmegen, Delfgauw, and two in the Hague.


Died and Gone to Heaven

I stumbled upon a very special kind of sale in the weekend. ABC (The American Book Center) were having their “book by weight” sale.

No kidding, 5 euros for a kilo of books.

I only managed to find 820g of books, and still paid 5 euro for that, but hey, the two books new would have been about 45 euro.

One of the books is “Treasures from the Attic” the background to the Anne Frank story based on documents found in an attic. I can’t wait to read it.

It’s a weekend only thing, so you’ve missed out on Amsterdam. However next weekend the ABC in The Hague are running the same event. If you buy one kilo you’ve probably saved more than your train ticket.

Book Trade In

Calling all book lovers; do you have piles of fiction books that you’ve read and don’t want to keep for ever?

Yep, me too. Which is why I’ll be going to ABC’s trade in day next Friday, swapping fiction that I don’t want anymore for book vouchers.¬† Sounds like a good deal to me.

They’ll take fiction books in good condition, preferably mass market rather than niche content and they’ll pay you based on a fair resale value. It runs from 11am to 6pm.

For more information see the ABC site.

So you’ve written a book

You can now publish it in about 12 minutes at ABC in either Amsterdam or Den Haag. The technology is called “The Espresso Book Machine” I guess because it hisses and whirs and in a short time produces what you asked for. You can see it in action here.

Of course you can get other books printed – you don’t have to write your own. There are more than 3 million books that are public domain – either off-copyright and a selection of books where authors have granted the rights to the Espresso Book Machine Database. You can search for available works.

If the book is already in the database it’s a relatively simple process, select the book via a computer screen, press go; the machine prints a glossy colour paperback cover, all the content pages (currently only in black and white), glues it, binds it, trims it.

Hey presto! 12 minutes later your book appears!

The book shown here is “Travels with Greely” by Andy Baker, based on his travels in Europe in 2002. It is a “self-published” book, but as it has an ISBN number and is in the Espresso Book Machine database it can be purchased.

It was exciting to see the book literally “hot of the press” I think it would be infinitely more exciting if it were my name on the cover.

Need a little art in your life this weekend?

For something  a little different this weekend try the ABC Urban Arts Festival.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Straat Papier Holland Klik – Workshop…”, posted with vodpod

It’s on Saturday afternoon (1pm-6pm) in the square in front of the American Book Centre and will feature book signing, art, workshops and – of course – books.¬† All have an urban edge this year.

For more information, visit the ABC blog or check the ABC Treehouse website for details on the individual workshops.

Did you see this in Amsterdam?

The books cover

The book's cover

I picked up a guidebook published in 1978 with sites in Amsterdam – some of the more obscure sites – and the history. It’s called Zag u dit in Amsterdam? “Did you see this in Amsterdam”, by J.H. Kruizinga with photos by Joop Steussy. Apparently there are 2 more volumes to find.

I’m fascinated. I’ve been visiting some of the sites to see if they’re still there, I’m going to try and work my way through the book between now and the end of the year. Starting today.

Sculpture of Vondel, where his house once stood

This sculpture is of Joost van den Vondel, for whom Vondelpark is named, it’s set on a building on Warmoesstraat, and indicates where his house once stood.
He lived from 1587 – 1679, and was a writer and playwright, his plays are still performed today.

The legend beneath the sculpture refers to his most famous play “Gijsbrecht van Aemstel” a historical play based on a siege of Amsterdam in 1304.

The play was performed every year on New Year’s Day from 1638 to 1968, but the building on which the sculpture is placed was built in 1911. They must have thought the play would run forever.

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea tells the inspiring story of Greg Mortenson’s promise to build a school, a promise he struggled and fumbled and sacrificed to make come true. One promise turned into a mission, one school turned into a foundation; the Central Asia Institute. The institute has now built around 55 schools, and set in motion a myriad of locally run projects to improve water supply and provide tools or premises for small businesses.

Along the way Mortenson has met leaders in one of the world’s most isolated areas, met with philanthropists and senators in America, met heroes of the climbing world, and taken tea with the Taliban. He’s had his share of scary moments including being kidnapped, but has remained dedicated to delivering schools. He sees that education, particularly the education of girls, is the only way towards long term success of the region and ultimately to peace. He finds support from surprising sources – including a Shariat – an Islamic court.

He was in Pakistan at the moment of 9/11, and knew the fears of the locals who referred to “the village of New York being bombed”. On the 14 September he attended the inauguration of another school, there Syed Abbas gave a moving speech recognising the enormous value of education and went on to say;

I request America to look into our hearts, and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.

Mortenson sees and understands the forces of radicalisation that are creating a grave danger in this region. He sees the only possible long term defense as education, it enables the children to envision a new future for themselves and build a new economic reality. Graduates of his first school have already gone on to higher learning.

While the writing (it was co-written by David Oliver Relin) is a little overblown the tale of “Dr Greg” comes shining through, there were moments of sadness, laughter and moments that took my breath away. It’s certainly inspiring.

To do a good deed with your purchase buy the book through the dedicated website Three Cups of Tea. The first thing I did after I’d read this book was go to Greg Mortenson’s foundation, the Central Asia Institute, and donated enough to support a teacher for at least a year. 10 euro supports a student at school for a year, 250 or so supports a teachers, the cost of a school is around 10,000 euro. I challenge all readers of the book to do the same – make a donation.