'Amsterdam...The Essence'


'Amsterdam... The Essence' available now, in print and for the iPad.
Order in print online
or get it digitally for FREE.

"Nobody wants to be labeled a tourist - whether you're visiting, or living in Amsterdam as an expat. This book gives you the inside story on why the city is so diverse and fascinating."
David Beckett, author.

Combining his own experience with that of a diverse group of creative locals, Beckett tells the story of the city in the words of the people who shape it.

25 Amsterdammers share their experience of life in Holland's capital - including tattoo king Henk Schiffmacher; musical fashion superstars Shirley Hart and Bas Kosters; street artist Laser 3.14 ; former Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen; founder of the Prostitution Information Centre, Mariska Majoor: comedian and columnist Youp Van ‘t Hek; Hollywood actress Halina Reijn; ‘Mr Ajax’, Sjaak Swart; rapper and artist Def P; singer/songwriter Lake Montgomery; musician and photographer Pim Kops; and world famous shoe designer Jan Jansen.

The digital version of the book is now available for iPad
Completely FREE

Here's a movie that shows how 'Amsterdam... The Essence' for iPad redefines the digital book, by adding numerous films, soundclips and photo galleries to the text.

Other characters featured are; author of Quiet Amsterdam, Siobhan Wall; head of the Amsterdam Museum, Paul Spies; artist Marcel Ozymantra; radio and TV presenter Daniël Dekker; author and editor of Time Out Amsterdam, Nina Siegal; and gay rights activist and performance artist Fya Hopelezz.

David explains the story of how the book developed.

“I fell in love with Amsterdam as soon as I arrived. Something about the atmosphere captured my imagination, and over the years I found my opinions and character being shaped by the city and its people. I consider this to be my home-town, and wanted to find a way to share my passion and joy for living in Amsterdam.

There are plenty of travel guides about this city - Lonely Planet and Rough Guide give comprehensive listings of where to go or what to see. What they don't answer is the most elusive questions of all - why is the city like it is, and why are the people like they are? 'Amsterdam… The Essence' is the first book to give those answers, by gathering the opinions and feelings of a diverse group.

The book is very colourful with as much emphasis on image as on text - showing the Amsterdam story of creative characters like Def P and Bas Kosters can't be done in black and white!

I believe that few people like the label “tourist”, and especially a section of visitors to the city want to know something more than the obvious tourist locations. Those coming to Amsterdam naturally want to do the boat trip and see the Van Gogh museum. But there is so much more to the city than the main tourist drag of Leidseplein, Dam Square and the Red Light District.

It’s the 'underground' aspect of Amsterdam that is most vibrant, exciting and diverse  - and that's the real essence of the cityEarly on, I decided my mission was to capture the heart and soul - the essence - of Amsterdam by digging into the experiences of people living here. What do they do, where do they go, why do they live here, what do they think and feel about the city?

As I talked about interviews for the book, I began to meet some creative characters from a diverse range of backgrounds and saw that they each have a unique perspective. They could tell something about the hugely varied cultural world that exists in Amsterdam, which is very much more interesting at the less-commercial level. It’s the 'underground' aspect of Amsterdam that is most vibrant, exciting and diverse, and this will feature in the book.

Equally, to learn about the city’s history and the changes it’s gone through needed interviews with knowledgeable residents who also have controversial views.

In terms of design, its focus is on readability. Over 150 photographs highlight the personal nature of the content – almost like a scrapbook of ideas and experiences.

My goal is to create something colourful, alive and absorbing that makes you want to read it even after the visit is over. It’s been told by many locals that Amsterdammers are always interested to read what foreigners have to say about their city. So I also believe that for residents, the book can have a high value."

The first publication in The Essence™ range, Amsterdam... The Essence, is now available.

Information for Bookshops

  • Title - Amsterdam... The Essence
  • Author - David Beckett
  • Publisher - DJB Pubs
  • Size - 200mm x 235mm
  • Pages - 156, full colour
  • ISBN - 978-94-90874-02-5
  • Retail Cover Price - €19.95
  • Bookshops can order at the Centraal Boekhuis

To receive further information about discount terms, please email david.beckett@theessenceonline.com

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