Catching Up in the Archive
Curated Bookshop door And so on books & Books@RET

Fotografie: Nicola Baratto


Transcript: Matt Hinckley (books@RET)and Moosje Goossen (and so on books) have a talk with Nell Donkers

Nell: I’m sitting here with Moosje Goossen, and so on books… in from Rotterdam, and Matt from Ret, books at Red in Rotterdam, and Instagram, and we’re going to talk a bit about what they’re doing. They made in the exhibition of Mariana Lanari in de Appel ‘Catching up in the Archive’ they curated a bookshop of de Appel, and I found them on Instagram mostly. So Moosje, can you tell a bit about and so on books?

Moosje: Uh, yeah, I started the bookshop I think a year ago on Instagram. I’ve always been reading a lot, and collecting books and accumulating and gathering books. And then I had the idea, because it was also very quiet because of covid. So I thought well it’s maybe a nice idea to start a virtual bookshop on Instagram, starting just with fifty books or something, and giving people the sense that I have a big bookshop. Just starting small, I always have the problem that I have a plan and then its to big and then I give up on it, but then with Instagram, its just…

Nell: Small steps

Moosje: yes! Small steps, so I just started with small steps with Instagram and via popup bookshops. Like on location sometimes. Its specialised with English language books, literature and then mostly women. So, eh, first I was thinking of doing female only, but then I thought it was a bit too militant actually, I mean there are many good male writers as well. But it is, like the majority of the books are eh female authors. And then a few good men.

Nell: Okay thanks, maybe Matt you can also do a small story, like the beginning, why?

Matt: well, I used to run a bookshop in Australia, and then I moved here and the opportunity came up at a space in Rotterdam called Rib to do like a pop up one day a week thing ___ who runs that encouraged me to sort of open the space one day when the gallery wasn’t open. So I also started really super small scale. Also on Instagram, yeah, and just sort of eh, and just sort of very small with things I was interested in, and it sort of branched out from there basically. Yeah so I think I specialise more in sort of ephemera, like exhibition ephemera and eh, yeah like eh, concrete poetry, Japanese avant-garde, second hand sort of things, it’s quite a varied mix but its quite niche, like in a way like being mostly online allows you to be.

Nell: Nice

Moosje: I’m fan of his bookshop.

Matt: Likewise

Nell: But Matt you also have this space where people can come right?

Matt: it’s really funny cause I’ve had always had this sort of space. And then I moved out of Rib eventually, then the name changed from books at Rib to books at Ret, I moved to the Ret building in Rotterdam. But during covid it’s been sort of closed. So it has been more or less online. So now I’m moving to Amsterdam, soon, and that will be like more back to being like an actual space as well. Only one day a week but still. Hopefully also exhibitions and things like that as well.

Nell: Relocation! And you also really have a website?

Matt: Yeah

Nell: And you don’t?

Moosje: No just purely Instagram, and on location sometimes.

Nell: And where did you do the pop-ups?

Moosje: I did one, last summer I did one, in Daily Practice, this is also a space in Rotterdam. And I will do that again this summer. In July I will be open there. And then I did one at home also, which was also really nice. And I had to say like this is my private bookshop. Have a seat on my couch! It was really nice, I will do that again. And i’m here, of course, at de Appel, and then I’ m also having one next month in Gent at Kiosk for a day. Very occasionally.

Nell: so you must be searching the internet or like, how do you acquire?

Moosje: That’s my, that’s book sellers trade secret. But yeah, basically everywhere! I’m always, like, I don’t know how you do that Matt but I’m always on the lookout for things. So even if I’m like, this week I was at de Pont in Tilburg and i’ll check what kind of second hand bookshops there are. I just go, and markets, online of course, stuff from myself. People also start to know that I have a bookshop so they start asking, are you interested? I want to get rid of books, are you interested? Yeah it’s really, I’m always on the lookout.

Nell: Even downstairs here, the 2nd hand books that are there?

Moosje: Ah, I haven’t seen it yet.

Matt: I can’t help but walk past it. Nell spotted me doing it a couple of times.

Moosje: But I have to say like, I find like little library books, I’m not going to sell these, but I’m looking for, in these free little libraries I’m always having a look. I never go into a bookshop without going out with at least one.

Matt: I think also like, it’s weird, it encourages you to buy things for yourself because you’re like ah I can always sell this.

Moosje: yes, exactly!

Matt: If I’m honest the bookshop is like one big excuse.

Moosje: I guess that’s also my criteria for what goes into the bookshop, like whether I want to read it or not. Or I have read it already and I want to sell it to others. Or I buy this and I hope I can read it before it gets sold. I have a big library that is also a bookshop.

Matt: I was even like when I started, like, I’m putting money into to this so if I’m closing, if tomorrow I’m out I have to want to keep everything.

Nell: It’s really a curator book buying

Matt: Not deliberately but it just happens because like it’s not like you are going to make a million dollars doing it. You want to be interested in everything you do. For me that’s the sort of…

Moosje: I don’t feel like a curator because it’s totally my arbitrary random choice, you know. And I, once I, I guess people start to recognize what is your taste at a certain time. But there is not rationale behind, like there is not theme, like eh, no. But that’s what I like

Matt: Like someone else can probably look and think oh that’s really tightly curated, but it’s more like what you’re really interested in.

Moosje: That’s what I like so much about the bookshop that you don’t have to think so much, like the themes come up from the collecting instead of the other way around.

Nell: It’s fun because the archive of de Appel works this way. Things are happening and that makes the archive. You don’t choose, I do a bit but mostly it comes by itself.

Moosje: yes, very organically, it starts speaking back to you, like this should belong there too, before I was thinking I will have this overview. I mean, some books but they are just not circulating in the Netherlands, you know like Japanese Avant-Garde is not like, I would love to have that in my shop.

Matt: That’s really why I started, well, that bookshop in Australia because it’s so hard to get anything there. So you kind of end up forming a community of people, and you’re like, ah, I want to get a copy of that too. It’s cheaper like, let’s get 5 copies of each, and I kind of like the idea of the bookshop working like that here as well. People sort of start to get in touch because they have very similar interests, and you form a bit of community or something, I like that.

Moosje: I mean that’s the nicest thing about the bookshop, people that show up that you haven’t, I mean they’re all, book readers are at home reading, you know. So it’s nice to see them and get to know them. That’s the best part of it. I met many people, even you know, I haven’t seen much people during covid times but I virtually met a lot of…

Nell: Book friends!

Matt: Yes same! I had a friend of mine building a website, like a proper website where you could just send an order, but at the moment you have to send an email, which is for a lot of people maybe annoying but I actually in the end thought let’s not do the shop because I’m really enjoying the people who do take the time. I’ve only had like one or two people I have not liked. Everyone is like super friendly and also, really interested as well. Yeah so I love that about it as well.

Nell: And you Matt, you also have a small publishing house?

Matt: Not really, not yet. But I’m hoping to start doing that towards the end of the year. There’s like one book in the works and like I’m sort of involved in designing and publishing and stuff. In a sort of informal way like I’m sort of involved in that as well.

Nell: And Moosje, what is your choice of books in the curated bookshop of de Appel? It came with a story.

Moosje: I did a bit of a wink to the curator idea, having books themed according to very random themes. So I have a set of books, ‘what the albatross saw’, and the titles of the books make up a little story of what he saw when he was flying over the sea. One other set is called ‘interaction ritual’ which involves all kinds of rituals of interaction, so yeah they are kind of taxonomies and they, an archive, and they disintegrate while people buy books, and I just noticed, because I looked at the selection, and I just noticed that they are already pretty disintegrated. So that’s nice to see, and I brought some new books today which is the category ‘and all others’, which is also a good one no, miscellaneous and all others, I don’t know how many others you have of that one.

Nell: “Unknown!” So the price list is already a really nice thing to look at, no. the list of books and what’s there. And what is your choice, Matt?

Matt: Mine’s not well thought through, cause I guess I’ve been here for a couple of months in the archive taking photos and just I think it was more being here and seeing certain things that made me interested and correlated with the bookshop. Like a lot of eastern European, or like, conceptual things that are sort of here…

Moosje: That’s really great because I was also thinking in my books like what could relate to the archive but ehm, as I’m more focussed on literature, I thought its better not to pretend that I am something equal to de Appel archive.

Nell: It would fit all in because there are a few of these things in there, that’s I think nice of de Appel archive,

Moosje: Yes I think it’s very varied, varied? I look at the English speaker for pronunciation.

Nell: So then the plans are, cause Matt you are going to Amsterdam, get a publishing house do you have a name?

Matt: Yeah yeah no no, publishing house is really overstating it. At this point there is like a book that would be nice to print. But like yeah, it would be nice, to yeah also maybe, we will produce like exhibitions and produce ephemera. Like little tiny pamphlets, which is like really the thing that I’m like interested in. and its like harder and harder to come across that sort of material these days.

Nell: You found some nice materials on Waterlooplein from the Appel, no?

Matt: Yeah exactly, like you, I’m always like having an eye out. Like if I’m ever with a group of people they are always like looking behind like oh he’s stopped at a book shop or something.

Nell: And also the free-book thingy’s that people have at home,

Moosje: Yeah that’s what I mean the free little libraries. Yeah I’m thinking of making one for myself also and have really very high antiques in it but only if I, I also have to you know, just to give away is a bit…

Matt: That would be interesting though like a very, specific one, like if I was in your neighbourhood I can just say I might just go and see. Like a weird sort of extension of your Instagram. A very specific swapping kind of library. That’ll be cool actually.

Moosje: I’ll think about it, yeah. Maybe that’s a better idea than my very exquisite books in there.

Nell: Is there something you want to share?

Moosje: No not really, just read! Come read and scan here!

Nell: And follow Instagram

Moosje: Yes, and_so_on_books is my Instagram, with a lower oh I don’t know how they call that

Matt: Underscore?

Moosje: Underscore, yeah. @underscore books.

Nell: I will publish that, haha.

Matt: I cant even remember what my actual thing is.

Moosje: I think yours is books@ret at dot at.

Matt: Yeah see I wouldn’t even know cause I click on it everyday.

Nell: Now, cause you’re moving from Ret to Amsterdam.

Matt: Yeah I’m not 100% sure what the, to be honest, the website still says books at Ret so I’m not super fast with the updating of these things, but I’ll work something out.

Moosje: Well, it’s nice to have your history.

Nell: Tells the story!

Matt: Purely through laziness.