What would it feel like to operate your very own Independent Bookstore? Doug Robinson knows the feeling and tells Julius Thompson in an Interview!
JT : Describe your life as an independent bookstore?
DR: After selling a small chain of college bookstores to a much larger company and working with them for 2 ½ years I took a sabbatical from the book business. Later, I briefly worked for a former colleague who had several bookstores in the Atlanta area. He eventually decided to close the Emory location and so I asked him if I could buy it from him, which I did in 2003. I then changed the name and changed the format from a Remainder Books only store to a full line bookstore selling used, new and bargain books.
JT : Describe your daily routine?
DR : I usually arrive about 7 AM so I can plan our work for the day. I will stay to about 5:30 unless we have an evening book signing. I deal with the never-ending paperwork, deal with publishers and distributors, maintain our 50,000+ titles (which is controlled by our point-of-sale system), train and supervise 8 booksellers and perform duties with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (I’m current president). I also read and review several books per quarter.
JT: Who are some interesting people from the community and the authors that come to Eagle Eye?
DR: Decatur and the Emory/Druid Hills area has it own set of “interesting” people—from the Emory faculty, staff and students to the patients and visitors to the nearby VA hospital.
The many authors that come to EE to have a book signing are full of stories, true and fictional. One of my favorites is Jedwin Smith. He teaches a non-fiction writing class in EE’s Reading Room and draws on his experiences as a US Marine, an AJC journalist and author of several books. My favorite is Fatal Treasure: Greed and Death, Emeralds and Gold, and the Obsessive Search for the Legendary Ghost Galleon Atocha .
JT: What makes an Independent book store?
DR: EE (Eagle Eye) is the quintessential “Mom and Pop” business. My wife, Diane, works at EE taking care of our Children’s sections. Our son, Charles handles most of the buying and author event proposals.
We’ve operated the store for 15 years at the same location, which is at a very busy crossroad of Clairmont and N. Decatur Road. We are one mile from Emory’s main gate and 1 mile from the center of Decatur.
JT: What are your other outlets?
DR : I love fishing and hoped to study Marine Biology in college but later realized it wasn’t as much fun as catching and eating fish. As a kid I was always reading, fiction (Hardy Boys) and non-fiction (Boy’s Life) and anything else I could find. My church had a great library and I spent a lot of time there.
JT: What authors come to Eagle Eye?
DR :We have many wannabe authors to come to EE. The most successful ones develop a relationship with our store.
JT: What do you like to read?
DR: Non-Fiction: Birds Great Metro Atlanta, anything by Neil Gaiman, Bad Cat.
JT: Describe your relationship with your animal friends at the store?
DR: We are a dog friendly store and routinely have two dogs laying around in EE. We have six dogs—Calypso, Gypsy, Gretl, Jaxson Brown, Holly and Reddy—who visit from time to time, though not all of them at the same time!
JT: How should people find time to read more books?
DR: Yes, turn off the computer, the TV, the I-pad, the smart phone, the radio and read a book.