Diary of a Bookseller

The Role of the Book Buyer

Right now, we are in the middle of one of my favorite times of the year at the bookstore – the fall buying season. The reps from the major publishers are stopping by the store to tell me all about the big books for the fall and I love it.

Diary of a Bookseller, Day 4

Meeting with Reps

As an established independent bookstore (we’ve been around 28+ years), we are fortunate to benefit from face-to-face meetings with sales representatives from all the major publishing houses, as well as some of the smaller ones. They stop by the store for sales meetings (that are really 1/4 sales, 3/4 “hey, how’s life”) and fill us in on all the top titles, as well as bring us Christmas, almost literally – most show up with boxes of advance reader copies for us to dig through – it is, the best. Looking for a job as a buyer? Good luck – it’s mostly luck getting into the role. There are roughly 500 positions in the country, most owners are also buyers. But if you happen to get the role, it’s probably my favorite job/role/position I’ve ever had.

Re-Ordering

There is nothing harder than trying to make sure that the store stays well stocked with both bestselling titles and lesser known titles. The hardest? Keeping the first of a series on the shelf. Wonder why your favorite store doesn’t carry particular books in there 1,000-100,000 book inventory? Odds are, they had so many other titles to worry about, it slipped through the cracks. Best way to ensure your favorite store has your favorite titles in stock? Support them! Buy a book there! I can promise you every book buyer is paying attention to what their customers are buying and they will tailor their backlist (re-order) inventory to their customers’ tastes!

Maintaining Balance

One of the hardest things to track and worry about is the balance of genres in the store. You may only have 3 romance readers that visit, but you want to make sure they have choices. Recently we tried branching out to support our customers who are interested in LGBT+ books, and it was received incredibly well. As section for millennials? Not so much. No one really knew what to do with it. We integrated Chick Lit into general fiction, and we’re constantly moving things around to, hopefully, help our customers find what they’re looking for. But it will occasionally backfire. It’s the best part of the puzzle, to figure out how to keep a 28+ year old store fresh.

Want to know more about working in a bookstore? Let me know!

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