Maybe you can explain your job a little more? Some folks here are assuming you're the bookseller, but is that true? Or is it more like you represent the bookseller? Maybe it depends on the size of the bookseller's business...Sure. It depends on the size of the store. In a big chain store, most of the buying might be done in a central office by people who never set foot in the shops. And in some very small independents, one person functions as the owner-manager-buyer. And there is every gradation in between. I am an in-store buyer for a very large independent, large enough that we have in-store buyers as well as a separate buying office. It is perfectly correct to call me a bookseller, though I very rarely have time to spend "on the floor" hand-selling to customers, which to me, is the fun stuff.
So what do I do? The buying office meets with reps and picks out all the new stuff that will come into the store. We go through the catalogues page by page, looking up numbers on a computer while the rep tells us details about the books we are looking at. Hopefully the rep has either brought or sent ahead samples, advance copies, etc, so we can get a good idea of what the stuff really is like. Being in a buying session can be a bit tedious or hilarious, depending on the rep, however OUR reps are almost uniformly excellent - they know their product lines inside and out, and they know us, too, so they are very able to advise us on which titles to watch out for.
I also restock books each day from publishers and wholesalers, place special orders for people, place event orders and do publisher and wholesaler returns. Oh, and answer the phone, help people in the store when they need, deal with hundreds of emails and packages and slips of paper that get put on my desk in a week, follow up and place angry phone calls to publishers when such-and-such hasn't arrived, buy consignment books from authors, book some events, work some events, re-do displays when they get messed up, crawl in and out of the store's display window, change the soap in the bathroom... and sometimes I even get to have lunch.
...do you think it is too late for publishers to put their foot down in regards to the power the chains have, both in the US and Canada over which books they will and will not take and why, and even to them having the say in book covers, colours etc? While I realize it would take publishers joining together in a ban on the big chains and millions lost by them, I feel that if the pubs would take such a stand and only supply to the indys for a short time, the big guns would perhaps back down somewhat and make life better for all of us.
I bemoan the fact that chain bookstores wield such tremendous influence. I wish that people would give me that kind of power! (insert maniacal laugh here...) Look at that question of yours again, and you'll see two little words that no publisher would ever want to hear: "millions lost." A general ban, or even censure, of big-box stores by publishers is NEVER gonna happen. And really, why should it? If you ran an ad agency, or a garden center, or any other kind of business, you'd probably give some perks to a million-dollar account that a thousand-dollar account wouldn't get. Them's the breaks. For my own part, I am much more concerned about chains and online retailers being able to drastically undercut our prices -- but that wasn't the question.
There also seems to be great deal of general confusion in the author community about big box stores "refusing to carry" certain titles. There is a big difference between "refusing to carry" a book and just not buying it. I don't buy lots of things, for lots of reasons. Maybe the author has historically bombed in my shop. Maybe it is a genre or type of book that has never done well for me. Maybe the cover is horrifically ugly, or the book itself is cheaply made or merchy. [EA inserts: "merchy" may be defined as "so decked out with non-book extras as to functionally be more toy than book; gimmicky"] The decision to buy or not buy is always based on what will do well in my store, and is never a personal attack on the author. I carry books by political figures that I wouldn't spit on... if the books sell. I hate to be blunt, but I haven't got a lot of room in my store. The books on my shelves aren't for decoration. Think of it this way: each book is renting shelf space. For a paperback, it is about 10 cents a day. For a hardcover, more like 25 cents a day . If they are not "turning" quickly enough to make the nut, I have no room for them. [EA inserts: "to make the nut" see definition 6.]