Ted Savas has a post about falling book sales at B&N. He says, "If I ran the store, sales would explode. I guarantee it."
This moved me to check out the sales clerk's job description. Lest you think Ted's boast is idle, look at this B&N recruitment page. Are you motivated yet? Can you imagine if they recruited motivated book lovers instead of these types?
Notice the clerk we're interested in talking to when we visit the store comes in two flavors. First, there is the "bookseller" who does not even merit his own job description but shares three sentences with two other workers. "They create a friendly, casual, helpful experience for customers. They know what’s in their departments, and keep them inviting, organized and well stocked." Focus on ambience, focus on your little warehouse duties. Customers will take care of themselves, it seems.
The second kind of sales clerk is "the lead." "Leads are the experts in their assigned sections, and are a key resource to booksellers and customers alike. Leads monitor in-store inventories and manage work assignments." That's the whole description.
What would you want in a book clerk? Book evangelists? Or ambience generators? Expertise in books or in inventory management?
The big box stores are book automats. Remember Horn & Hardart? They figured out how to remove the human touch from restaurant operations. They're everywhere now, aren't they?