- by Dara Girard
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve worked for Borders for more than 14 years, the last eight of those years as a Romance buyer. I’m married and live in Michigan. In my spare time, when I am not reading, my husband and I enjoy the outdoors — bike riding in the summer and skiing in the winter. Prior to my career at Borders, I was a cosmetic buyer at K-mart and although buying cosmetics was great fun, buying Romance books is my passion.
How did you get your start as a book buyer?
Over 14 years ago the company was looking for buyers and I thought I’d give it a whirl. I began buying Children’s books and then moved over to Romance. I’ve always enjoyed reading books with romantic elements, but never thought I was a Romance reader —thankfully I became the buyer for Romance or I would never have known all I was missing
What do you love most about the romance genre?
I love the diversity of the Romance genre: Suspense, Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel, Paranormal and Futuristic — love them all!
Could you describe your typical work day?
Fortunately, my typical work day is not so typical — it’s one of the many things I like about my job. Mornings are usually spent analyzing the business from the previous day, week and month. During the afternoons I typically work on marketing and promotions to see how we can better position our books in stores or online to better reach our customers. Vendor appointment days usually are just that: days spend with the vendor reviewing their lists.
Of course, there is the taping of author interviews for “Borders True Romance,” which is one of our many exclusive and original BordersMedia programs, and doing interviews for the newly launched “Borders True Romance Blog,” a community for Romance readers. As you can see, this is a great job!
What are the major factors that influence your buying decisions Are these different for established authors versus newer writers?
Buying Romance books is quite fun and there are many things that influence the buy. First I look at sales trends of that author and the genre. New authors are compared to more established authors and established authors are compared to their previous books. Promotional placement has an impact on the buy. I consider things like how the book will placed in-store, promoted online and whether the author is going promote the book herself.
How much impact does the cover have? Have you ever encouraged a publisher to change a book’s cover?
The cover can definitely impact sales. Suggestions are often made to the publishers regarding cover changes supported by sales trends. Borders has a great relationship with publishers and is typically sought after for opinions on cover looks and treatments.
What are some mistakes you’ve seen in book marketing?
One of the biggest mistakes I see repeated time and time again is a cover that does not depict the story and cover copy that does not clinch the customer. I won’t give examples, because that’s not nice, but this scenario does happen more often than it should.
Some authors live in fear of the Bookscan numbers. How does Bookscan work from your perspective?
Bookscan for me is more of a measurement of how Borders compares to the industry. We use our own sales numbers to determine the success of an author’s book.
What gets you excited about a new book or author?
I must admit, I’m a typical Romance customer. I’m usually intrigued by the cover, then the back copy, and more often than not, by a good cover quote from a bestselling author. Romance experts also update me on books they want me to pay more attention to. I also encourage authors to keep me informed on their new releases — it keeps me on the forefront of what’s new.
What do you wish authors understood about your role? How about publishers?
Good question. I’d like to encourage authors to get to know the managers at their local stores and keep me informed as to what they are doing. I am here to help them succeed, because if they do well, Borders does well, which makes us all very happy. The same goes for publishers — I really try to keep myself available and informed so we can all be successful within the industry.
Thanks to Elaine Isaak for the interview questions.