Book Buyer, pt. 2

Becoming a Book Buyer has had steady hits over the past 15 months, making it one of the top five most viewed posts on my blog.   Enter the phrase as a Google search and my post is one of the top results.  Given the level of interest shown and the economic downturn, I decided to post an update.

According to an Association of American Publishers report book sales dropped 17% in March and are down 6.8% year to date.  Many stores are surviving by cutting costs, and a few are even thriving.  No, I’m not talking about Barnes & Noble, which had a net loss of $2.1 million in the first quarter.  Books-A-Million fared better, with a net increase of $2.1 million, although their sales were a tenth of Barnes & Noble’s and they were not obligated to pay a CEO her salary during that span.  But regardless of first quarter performance, there aren’t many options for becoming a book buyer at a corporate bookstore.  I am talking about the independent bookstores that have developed unique identities and are located within communities that have rallied around them.  These stores won’t compete with the chains when it comes to total sales volume, but they do offer the best opportunities to become a book buyer.

A successful independent bookstore will already have a qualified book buyer who is instrumental in the store’s success.  Ideally one would become an assistant buyer in such a store, learning the trade from an experienced hand as a modern apprentice.  There aren’t many openings for assistant book buyers in this market, not when stores are forced to scale back on inventory and personnel in order to offset declining sales.  The trade book department in our store had to cut two full-time positions, including the buyer position.  As such I am being reassigned as a textbook buyer.  I am fortunate to work in a store with that option, as opposed to the limited alternatives other stores are currently facing.  When I started working in the store there wasn’t a trade book buyer position.  Now that it has become untenable I’ve been given another book buying opportunity.  I’ve only had these opportunities because I was hired to run the candy counter.  You have to get your foot in the door, even if that means working as a barista in the cafe.  You may need to gain some experience working in a chain store before moving on to an independent store.  You have to work your way up.  In my case that is both figurative and literal, as the textbook department is on the second floor of our store.  I’ve gone from one end of the conveyor belt to the other!

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One Response to “Book Buyer, pt. 2”

  1. […] to said manager, my friend Drew Goodman. Since his full time staff was reduced by two thirds (see Book Buyer, pt. 2), Drew also had to do the jobs of three people. Sales declined, part time help was scaled back, […]

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