Independent Bookstores and a People-Powered Future – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-06-09 10:22:35 –

In 2009, Harry W. Schwartz’s bookstore in Milwaukee closed after 1982 business. At the time, the US economy was in recession, tech geeks were enthusiastic about the Kindle, and the rise of the Internet was already trying to wipe out everything. Schwartz Book Buyer and Manager Daniel Goldin has opened the Boswell Book Company (2559 N. Downer Avenue) at the East Side venue of Harry W. Schwartz. Despite changes in society and technology, printed books survive. Goldin told Off The Cuff about the challenges and rewards of selling books.

It seems that there was only a small gap between the closure of Schwartz and the start of Boswell. What are your plans at that time? Did people find it crazy that you opened a bookstore in the 21st century?

We are now seeing new bookstores opening every week across the country, but the mood in late 2020 was even more depressing. Experts said they would stop looking at printed books by 2013. News articles.

For the short period (less than a week) from the closing of Schwartz to the opening of the store, [Schwartz] The family worked for both us and Mequon’s Next Chapter, so we tried to minimize the gap after we purchased the property. We have created a timetable to close the store before the final price cut elsewhere.Eventually [Schwartz’s] Shorewood and Brookfield became bookstores as branches of open books and half-price, but they later opened.

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I’m the type who is not good at closing my favorite store. We’re glad that Schwartz didn’t start cutting prices shortly after the announcement, giving loyal customers time to say goodbye where they could see the store as it was. If the store is transferred to a liquidator, you may get a deal, but the experience is not fun. I had to say goodbye to the soup house I had visited regularly for 21 years-on average a weekly visit-and I ate my favorite soup, chicken tikka masala, again at the end. It was. Another quart in my freezer. Remember there were 5 soup shops between Downtown, District 3 and Walkers Point?

What is the purpose of bricks and mortar in an era when most things can be purchased on Amazon? Does the bookstore provide services? What is the value to readers of buying from the shop instead of online?

I have a colleague in a bookstore who actively fights well. Danny Kane of The Raven in Lawrence, Kansas put together Zine. How to resist Amazon and why: Local economy, data privacy, fair labor, independent bookstores, and the fight for a future where people work together! And it’s a hit! It sells well at Boswell, but I’ve noticed that it’s out of stock in the warehouses of some of the wholesalers we shop for. He really organizes all the discussions. I’m a little softer — I’m not like the podium. I like to say, “We’re there as long as you want,” and at least until now, people have responded. Many customers are proud of the store, from afar. Many customers come with their friends and relatives.

I don’t think people react well to embarrassment, and they are familiar with the shortcomings and shortcomings of themselves and the store itself. The book business isn’t set up with enough margin to pay what’s right for people unless you truncate the service and selection. However, many shoppers are on Amazon for others. There is a tendency to buy a lot of books and then buy books at an independent bookstore. I hope I can move some of that thinking to other types of retail. If you can ask a few things as a customer, think about what to say to front-line retailers, bookstores, and so on. “Let’s buy it on Amazon”, “I like to see books here, but I only read them on my Kindle”, and “Amazon is cheaper, so it’s worth the price”. I’m not talking here, but that person at the front desk cashier. Think about what you say. I actually tried to take that lesson when I was a consumer.

Over the years, we have also worked on diversifying author programs, exhibitions and selections. The expression should really be everywhere. Fortunately, we were fortunate to be able to work with many partner organizations to get the BIPOC authors involved in the community. We also worked with nonprofits to bring books into the hands of those who couldn’t get them on their own. Can you do better? Of course it was possible. We also know that everyone is chasing the same programming and popular writers. Therefore, my plan is to discover a great writer of lesser-known colored races.I mean, if you haven’t read Nowhere you belong By Gabriel Bump, Bent Hallelujah By Kelly Joe Ford, Lakewood Megan Giddings or my new favorite, Five wounds Kirstin Valdez Quade, should.Oh, and Punch Me Up to the God, By Brian Bloom. It’s a great memoir.

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I understand that in the last few years before the pandemic, there was a resurgence of independently owned bookstores throughout the United States. How has COVID affected bookstores across the country? Has there been a significant number of closures?

There were some closures and many sales. But that’s good news too. Ten to fifteen years ago, selling a bookstore was even harder …

Limited browsing started in September last year. Some of my friends at other bookstores have just opened. It was crazy, picking up on the sidewalk, putting all sorts of items you didn’t do before on your website, and pivoting to virtual events and book clubs. For six months we banned browsing, but we learned what it’s like to be inefficient in a warehouse. In the summer, many of us were anxious to browse just to interact with people in a positive way.

Describe the average Boswell customer. Or is there such a thing?

I don’t think there are typical customers, but you can certainly sell some books better than others. People who live five blocks away are more likely to meet them than people who are 20 miles away. One of the interesting things about COVID is that it had an unexpected customer pocket. I noticed this especially during the spring and summer deliveries. I would like to thank some unexpected concentration. Thanks to East Tosa, Tippecanoe (especially near the library), and the small but loyal gangsters in Germantown. Some of these places didn’t make sense for me to deliver, but I ran from time to time to surprise people when I saw a large number of geographically adjacent packages. Besides, I’m glad I was in the world, but it was hard to do it. At one point, I was carrying an employee note from the Milwaukee Health Department. In case a police officer warns me.

What are the various steps Boswell has taken to survive during COVID? For example, selling at the curbside or moving from a writer’s live event to a Zoom presentation.

When it comes to sidewalk pickup, all the bookstores we know are pivoting at once and the difference was the amount actually allowed. [by state restrictions] What to do-less on the coast, more inland. After trying a few options, I moved to a touchless system that uses a cart, but that’s pretty much the same. When it opened for browsing, it was initially limited to 10 people, and then to 15 people. When the staff takes the second shot, I hope to pull it up again. It’s actually hard for the staff to keep counting.

Pivoting the event took a little longer. In fact, it took about five weeks to host the first virtual event, and it wasn’t until June that we stopped canceling the event and started pivoting. Looking back, I wish I had done it sooner, but I didn’t know what I was doing. The biggest problem we had was a ticket-based event. Of the 10 or so events issued in the spring, only 3 were refunded with Brown Paper Tickets. Currently, there is a court order requesting a refund of the ticket, but some customers may have to wait for a while as there is a 7-month grace period for the refund. We spent a lot of time thinking about what to do about this. Especially after Brown Paper Tickets blocked communication with customers. I downloaded my contact address, but I can’t send a bulk email. Also, sending more than 300 emails to keep you up to date on the event is more complicated than you might think.

Some customers like virtual events and others don’t. I would be grateful if you could welcome Kazuo Ishiguro and other writers who wouldn’t normally come! An unknown writer living abroad! —And I like how intimate the event is. The author is basically at home and very relaxed. However, there are some things that don’t work well, such as big ticket-based events. We found that we focused on tracking events in our favorite books. This is much harder to do when you need to take the author to Milwaukee.But more than that, if it’s an ambiguous fiction book that we’re excited about (as in recent years) Leonard and Hungry Paul, What a phenomenon for us!), Many people can buy the book, but it’s difficult for strangers, especially fiction, to buy the book. However, it is easier to turn on your laptop or mobile phone for viewing.

I also like the fact that most events are now archived online. When I go back to face-to-face programming, I’m still trying to find a way to do this.

When do you think you will return to normal business?

I spend every day almost every day … and because many Americans don’t want to be vaccinated and many countries aren’t vaccinated, it’s mutants that are fruitful, so to speak, multiply. It means having a lot of opportunities. But scientists don’t seem to understand herd immunity yet. So, there seems to be no answer.

I really don’t know what will happen on the tour. Many publishers may be wondering, “Why bother?” In any case, they were cutting money for the author’s trip. However, many writers want to escape on their own, and certain types of writers who usually break through tours (especially the Mystery and Thriller series) don’t seem to break in the same way.

And, of course, there are several new bookstores open in Milwaukee, from the Niche Book Bar to Lion’s Tooth to La Revo Books (I don’t know if there are any physical space plans). I looked at the list of local trade associations and found Milwaukee’s bookstores and bars, but I still don’t know what they are or where they are. One of the nice things is that you can collaborate with other bookstores in virtual events. There is a monthly program with Books & Company and an almost quarterly program with East Troy’s InkLink. We were also able to host events at Outwords and some new stores.

Is it so normal? What is normal in the first place? Is it normal? I can be confident that nothing is immutable other than change.

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