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An interview with Beth Johnson

An interview with Beth Johnson

30,000 books hanging in the air

A peek inside Beth Johnson’s Boekhandel van Rossum: Her newly expanded bookstore and bamboo garden on the Beethovenstraat in Amsterdam.

By John Richardson


I recently —finally—caught up with Beth Johnson in her redesigned bookshop. A wonderful and unexpected aspect of the bookshop is its new bamboo garden, which is where I spoke with Beth.  She started by telling me that this is where she hopes to hold small outdoor book events in the warmer months. 

IMG_023430,000 books hanging in the air
Beth’s bookshop has recently been extended thanks to the purchase of the shop next door. Working with a London based design company, the new bookshop successfully bridges the gap between 1920s Art Deco and the 21st Century. The very modern floor-to-ceiling design houses over 30,000 books—yet feels airy and full of light.


IMG_0204From businessmen to children
Beth Johnson thinks we all learn in a different way, and each one of us has a different approach to reading. Because of this insight, she helps everyone from businessmen, who have forgotten how to read literature, to enriching the imagination of children of all ages. Beth’s eclectic and curious bookshop certainly feels personal and tailored towards this approach.


Dutch and English books
Beth encourages and challenges her various readers, and I found her wide range of children’s books, both in Dutch and English, to be extremely stimulating.  Teenagers are also very well catered for, and she does not shy away from the darker side of the teen experience.


Keyhole time travel
Central to the bookshop’s redesign is the keyhole shaped entrance to a room that seems to transform you into a time traveller. It’s as if you are being drawn into a secret Tardis from Dr Who, where you can go anywhere you want. This space module and its books provide a moment of quietude and stillness that allows your mind to wander through the ages and experience distant and forgotten lands.  You find yourself enchanted by disappearing and rediscovered fauna and flora—and its architectural and culinary wonders.
Beth cares deeply about people
Beth likes to have contact face-to-face and get to understand what her customers really need. Consequently, she is very big on feedback. It helps her shape her tailored approach to each customer. Which is why we are encouraging each reader of  Beth’s Books blog to reach out to her. If only to thank her for her wonderful recommendations. And to perhaps suggest themes and books that you may find of interest. It will make it that much easier for her to get the measure of her readers. Plus their likes and dislikes. And to make this blog event more useful and usable, fun and challenging, rewarding and stimulating.

Beth Johnson is the owner of Boekhandel Van Rossum (Beethovenstraat 32 in Amsterdam). Beth writes about and sells a wide range of Dutch and English books for children, young adults and mature readers.

Beth would also be delighted to receive feedback about her book recommendations.
Send Beth a Feedback Email
Beth would love to hear feedback from you.


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