Thursday, May 28, 2009

We're Not Afraid to Be Second! Or Third! Just Tell us Ahead of Time, OK?

So a very nice customer comes into the store and tells me she's not happy with Jonathan West's new book from the Arcadia series, Milwaukee's Live Theater. It turns out there are some problems with the details. We had a good conversation about it, and I learned a lot.

Oy, oral histories! This must happen all the time. It reminds me of the old Fibber McGee and Molly show, where Old Timer would say "That's pretty good, Johnny, but that ain't the way I heard it!"

I have no idea who is right in this. I would suspect Jonathan West doesn't have a team of editors backing him up at Arcadia. Arcadia creates photographic archives into books and does a good job of it. We'd never have a book on Milwaukee's Brady Street Neighborhood, Irish Milwuakee, and Milwaukee Fire Department, let alone Oak Creek and Shorewood without it. Those are all actual titles by the way, and Schwartz sold over 500 copies of Shorewood.

They are also the kind of publisher that books events, but might not necessarily give the bookstore the respect to let us know that there was another event already booked. In most cases, there are really only so many events a market can handle, even one as large as Milwaukee. I'm not worried about sharing an event with Oconomowoc's Books and Company (and in fact, I did, with Michael Perry), but I did actually have some folks from out there come to our event because they missed his appearance the night before.
That's why I was glad I already knew that Jonathan West, (who is appearing at Boswell Book Company on Wednesday, June 3rd, at 7 PM), already appeared at Mequon's Next Chapter Bookshop on May 18th. We need to know! We already had Gerda Lerner's publicist book us and UWM bookstore a day apart for her new book. The stores are only 10 blocks away from each other and the turnout was disappointing.

Then we had University of Wisconsin Press book two poets into our store, after they had booked them into Woodland Pattern and a nearby Barnes and Noble. This event was subsequently cancelled. I don't want to poach on Chuck's events at Woodland Pattern.

Now once we know, we'll sometimes book an event substantially (at least two weeks) after the previous event. The authors of the new Mary Nohl book were already scheduled at Barnes and Noble, but we thought there was enough interest in our side of town (and thought we could get the word out better) so that we could still have a decent attendance.

To summarize the upcoming events talked about in the post, all at Boswell Book Company:

Wednesday, June 3rd, 7 PM
Jonathan West, author of Milwaukee's Live Theater. Here's Mr. West's blog Artsy Schmartsy.

Thursday, June 4th, 7 PM
Barbara Manger and Janine Smith, authors of Mary Nohl: Inside and Out.

1 comment:

Jonathan West said...

Daniel, Jonathan West here. Any factual details out of order in the book fall at my feet. There's a few I have found out about as I continue to discuss theater history in Milwaukee. Yep, not a huge team of editors backing me up, but I do think the book gives a pretty accurate broad strokes history of Milwaukee. I did loads of fact checking, but I might have missed a couple of "i's" and "t's". The blame game can be leveled at me if anyone. If you know how to get in touch with that nice patron, I'd love to hear her story. In fact, I'm collecting personal stories through a new blog at It's all direct from the horses' mouths there. Thanks for booking me, too. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope to meet folks who can tell me I got it right, or need to dig a little deeper.