Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Display Tour! Featuring the Downer Classic Bike Race, the Kandinsky Art Exhibit, The Eastside Milwaukee Garden Tour, Pride Month, an Upcoming Baseball Event with Dan Epstein, and Our Bookseller Support for Hachette Book Group.

I had someone who works with Google on virtual spaces ask me if I wanted to have the store mapped. I passed, but here's the next best thing.

1. We had a customer tell one of the Boswellians this week that she enjoyed how much we changed displays. This of course warmed my heart because we do put a lot of work into it, and I don't think we change them enough. My rule of thumb is to change, move, or update a display once a month, or more often if there is a timely issue. My dream is to change the front table every two weeks, rotating various displays through there, but it's rare that that happens. Right now we're promoting the Downer Classic bicycle race, so that will be there through this weekend.

The bike lights I bought in the spring turned out to be a hit. We are pretty much out. We still have the ooh-and-ahhed over bike bells. Oh, and don't forget about our event with Brian Benson, whose book Going Somewhere, chronicles his pedaled journey from Wisconsin to Oregon. He's appearing Thursday, July 24, 7 pm.

2. The big news in Milwaukee is the Kandinsky exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. We don't do displays to tie into every exhibit, but we could tell there was a lot of excitement there, and this one had the potential for more spin off sales. I didn't even try that hard; we just put up Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPre's The Noisy Paint Box, Mary Basson's Saving Kandinsky, and filled it out with some titles from Dover and Taschen (both nonreturnable publishers, but we were cautious) and the table seemed bare after two weeks. Fortunately at least the DaCapo Complete Writings on Art (which will likely soon become an imprint of Hachette) was at regular trade terms. The show next goes to Nashville in the fall.

3. Just about every bookstore has a display table up in support of Hachette Book Group, as they come under siege by Amazon. I actually had to wait until after last weekend, as the Father's Day and graduation tables weren't coming down until June 16th. The other big news that contributed to the display is that Boswell made it onto the Edan Lepucki California tour. This is the first novel that Stephen Colbert and Sherman Alexie were pitching on The Colbert Report. We'd love to get the book on The New York Times besteller list in spite of Amazon, so we're helping it along. Every so often we make an event book Boswell's Best (Burial Rites, Shotgun Lovesongs, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry are the last three) and we're doing that with California too. We can take presales in person, by phone, email, or on our website and the price will be 20% off.

My friend H. told me that her parents ordered California through Powells. Why? Because Stephen Colbert told them to. Oh for that kind of pull!

4. Since we still have a baseball display up, it was easy to repurpose it to promote our upcoming event with Dan Epstein, author of Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of 76. The event will be a conversation between Dan and Mitch Teich of WUWM's Lake Effect. Don't worry, we still have Hank the dog hanging out on the table.

5. It's almost the end of June, and I realized we never featured our LGBT history table. Originally tied in to Pridefest, it was repurposed afterwards, as June is also LGBT Pride Month, which is why the festivals take place. Jen curated the table, which features recent releases like Rachel Hope Cleves' Charity and Sylvia and Francine Prose's Lovers at the Chameleon Club. It won't be out in time for the display, but a couple of booksellers are reading the advance copy of Sara Farizen's young adult novel, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, and are very enthusiastic.

Our display signs are simple and consistent. One typeface (Century, as it's free, which is sort of vital to a bookstore, and yet not the default), black border, and we try to make the sign either informative or funny, sometimes both. Back in the day when I managed the Mequon Schwartz store (close to 20 years ago, I should note), having signs was a real pain and we usually tried to let the display speak for itself. There really are some displays that do speak for themselves, but most are improved by a little communication. Just a note to Anne here--remember your calligraphy pen? Pre-computer, it was a vital part of any bookstore operation.

6. Another event going on is the East Side Garden Tour on Sunday, July 27, from 10 am to 4 pm.  25 private gardens are open to the public, with maps available at the North Point Lighthouse and Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center. We repurposed the spring display and added some gardening titles. In other years we've had a dedicated gardening display but the weather was so weird that I never figured out when to put it up. There is no charge for the Garden Tour, presented by the Eastside Milwaukee Community Council.  I guess you noticed I have gotten into creating a display photo with an insert of the sign enlarged, as I realized you couldn't read them on the posts. Not that they are still large enough to read, but it's definitely a bit better.

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