I know, I know: the moment you’ve all be waiting for, the answer to the question on everyone’s mind, the latest and greatest expose: What’s it like working for Biblio.com?
Let’s start here: Biblio, Inc. is a small company–we have a total staff of 10, sometimes 11 if Winslow is here but he doesn’t get a whole lot of stuff done because he’s a dog. In a way, we’re like a family–we argue, we laugh, we exchange ideas and spend most of our waking hours together. We all wear multiple hats, and have the chance to learn different skills and work with different departments–even Brendan, CEO himself, will spend time answering customer and bookseller questions by email or phone. Even though we have a definitive management team, we all have opportunities for leadership and to voice our opinions and suggestions on how the company could improve. And the “higher-ups” actually listen, something that doesn’t happen in a bigger corporate venue.
But enough about that, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: my job title is the Service & Support Supervisor. What the heck does that mean, do you ask? Well, it means that I usually arrive between 8:30 and 9am every weekday. By the time I arrive, some folks are already here, busy at work–the click of keyboards is going just under the sound of music playing, the second pot o’coffee is brewing, someone might be making breakfast in the kitchen, we exchange stories about how our weekends went or the latest story we heard on NPR. I think we figured out the top ten music artists frequently played here in the office:
1. Kings of Leon
3. Miles Davis
5. Ali Farka Toure
6. Be Good Tanyas
7. Talking Heads
8. Grateful Dead
9. John Coltrane
10. Toss-up between R.E.M. and U2
If you don’t like the music that’s playing, you have the power to “veto” the record of the moment and switch it to something else. Music drives our office to a certain extent–we’re all big music enthusiasts, with different tastes and so we constantly have new stuff coming through the speakers. Anyway, after I grab coffee and some breakfast, I sit down at my desk, boot up ye olde Mac computer and load up all my tools for the day: the Biblio support ticket system, multiple websites, email, music, the latest version of BookHound. If it’s later in the week, I work on editing content and images for BiblioUnbound, our monthly customer newsletter.
For the first hour before the phones start ringing, I can concentrate on what we call “the queue:” our support ticket database. First we close resolved tickets and clean out spam and junk mail. Then I get to work, emailing customers and booksellers with solutions to their individual inquiries. If something’s too difficult for me to tackle by myself, I consult with someone else and save the ticket. Sounds glamorous so far, right? Phones start ringing at 10am with customers and booksellers requesting support, and that takes me all the way up to lunch, which I eat at my desk.
I like to use my actual lunch hour for running errands, or taking a nice long walk behind our building, which is next to the French Broad river. Staring at a computer for 7 hours a day really wears on you, so we all have to remind ourselves to take stretch breaks. Sometimes I look around and think that we’re all a bunch of workaholics because we’re all staring at our computers intensely, but we’re not–we’re just really dedicated to making this company succeed. Most of us have families and that really makes you reassess your priorities and ensure a balance between work and play. If it’s nice weather outside, we have our staff meetings out in the sunshine. You can’t work for a green company and not be an outdoors enthusiast.
The rest of the afternoon is spent “killing the queue,” otherwise known as solving people’s problems and answering questions. Sounds harsh, but I think no matter what job you have, you have to keep a sense of humor. Sometimes I take a break to play with the Star Wars and Charles Dickens action figures on my desk, or help Stephen put Brendan’s favorite stapler in a Jell-O mold. Yep, that’s right. The best part of our office is our practical jokes, so Lord help you if you go on vacation: you’ll return the next week to find your workspace transformed into a sparkling Princess Land, complete with flowers and glitter strewn about your mouse and keyboard. Or your computer, your pens, and your desk lamp will be shrink-wrapped.
When I go home at the end of the day, I don’t take my work home with me, which is nice. And I’m getting paid to help keep independent booksellers in business within their own communities–at the same time helping to save my little part of the earth and encourage people to “go green.” It’s good to know that I’m making a bit of a difference in the world, and my “family” is dedicated to the same thing.