Interview with a Bookseller: Lyn Roberts
Here’s an interview with Lyn Roberts, the General Manager of Square Books
in Oxford, Mississippi. Ms. Roberts has served on the Bookseller Advisory
Committee for the American Booksellers Association and helps organize the
Oxford Conference for the Book. She is also the producer of Thacker Mountain
Radio, and an alderman in Taylor, Mississippi, where she lives.
Victoria: Who are you and how long have you been
Lyn: My name is Lyn Roberts and I’ve been selling books for 18 years.
Victoria: What is the name of your store and where
Square Books, in Oxford, Mississippi http:
Victoria: Does your store have a particular focus?
If so, what is it?
Lyn: We are a general bookstore housed in three buildings on the square
in Oxford. Our main store has a wide variety of titles. We do excel in
southern literature and history. We have another store called Off Square
Books where we have events, music, bargain books, used books, collectibles,
magazines, graphic, sci-fi, art, photography & architecture – the more
visual sections. Last, but certainly not least is Square Books Jr – a store
for children and their parents.
Victoria: What's the biggest change you've seen in
bookselling in the last year?
Lyn: I'm not sure that I've seen anything entirely new, that has just
popped up. I think some things are becoming more mainstream & familiar to
the general population – like blogs. Electronic readers are becoming more
available too. Too soon to call that one.
Victoria: What's the biggest change you expect in
selling books in the next year?
Lyn: E books....
Victoria: How should writers and authors approach a
bookseller, say, for example, for a reading or signing, or simply for
Lyn: If the writer wants the bookseller to stock their book they should
be prepared with details like ISBN, trade discount, vendors, etc. If they
want to do a reading/signing I would say the best thing would be to send
info to the store in advance – as much as is available, including an advance
reading copy. Then get back in touch with the store. Try to do this before
the book is published. Bookstores like to have events around the time of
publication, not generally months later. As for advice – most booksellers
love giving advice, on what to read, that is. Most are not experts on the
other side of the business – getting books published.
Victoria: What is your opinion of POD books?
Lyn: The customer of the traditional publisher is the bookstore. The
customer of the POD is the writer. All the support, marketing, shipping and
other things a publisher does to help a bookstore sell books is either not
done by PODs or not done well.
Victoria: What is the greatest frustration that you
have with mainstream publishers?
Lyn: I really couldn't say. Some publishers, even the really large ones,
are great and recognize the importance of independent bookstores to their
sales. Some publishers, even the really small ones don't. I just can't lump
them all together.
Victoria: What advice would you give to aspiring
Lyn: Write, write, write! Buy Writer's Market. Keep your day job. Don't
expect it to be easy.
Victoria: Thanks so much, Lyn, for your informative
and candid interview! If you’re a bookseller and you want to be considered
for this series, send an e-mail to me at
Grossackva at Yahoo dot com.
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