Book Buyer in Three Parts

I’ve resorted to posting on a Saturday night, as I am at a loss for time during the week. Recently I have taken on the responsibilities of three book buyers, so my work week is three times as hectic. It began on April 30th, which is buyback time at the University Campus Store. That was the day our outgoing store director decided to eliminate the position of trade book manager. It came as a welcome relief 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, service suffered, and sales declined further. Drew was maligned as the manager, and his morale sank. That affected his job performance, which didn’t help the decline of the department. Drew knew the axe was coming, and was glad when it finally fell.

I didn’t share the sentiment. I was glad that he could escape a stressful and unappreciated situation, but I knew that stress would roll my way. As the once and future trade buyer, there was no one else qualified to assume those responsibilities. Yet the associate director and outgoing director didn’t realize that there were many aspects of the business that Drew did not train me to do, and I no longer have him as a resource. Drew taught me everything I know about book buying, but that doesn’t mean he taught me everything there is to know.

I now handle trade and text buying for the store, which has been a considerable challenge the past few months. The summer semester started in mid-May, and at the end of the month I set up a pop up store at the Grand America Hotel for the Congress for the New Urbanism. That sale was an unexpected success, for which I was given an Employee Excellence Award. I had no time to rest on my laurels, however, as inventory followed a week later. This past week we underwent the transition from our summer set up for textbooks to the fall set up, and it was apparent how much I’ve overlooked my textbook buying while tackling trade.

At the same time I picked up my third buyer role. The outgoing director retired at the end of June, but the lengthy search for a replacement came up empty. Our associate director was named interim store director; he in turn appointed the lead buyer to interim manager, and me to interim lead buyer. It’s a promotion for the next six months, at which time I may have the opportunity to apply for the position on a permanent basis. I accepted the promotion, even though it will increase my responsibilities yet again.

Why did the store eliminate the trade buyer position, put those duties on the trade manager, only to eliminate the trade manager and return those duties back to me? It certainly wasn’t because I do it better than Drew; it’s because I’ve been cross-trained to buy both text and trade. The two departments were combined last summer, so Drew and I were able to share an office again. Drew was given text buying responsibilities, but his trade duties were not shared out to the other text buyers. He had his hands full already, and couldn’t give any attention to text. My transition from full-time trade to text facilitated the necessary training I needed to be able to do both. The more you can do for a company, the more you will be expected to do. With this chance at a promotion, my multiple roles may pay off.

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