Moby Lives

Milwaukee welcomes new bookstore

April 23, 2009
Penny Johnson
Boswell himself

Boswell himself, from Boswell Book Company’s Face Book page

The excitement of owning a new bookstore in a good bookstore town may be wearing off for Daniel Goldin. Soon after opening the Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, he’s able to report on the store’s blog that he’s had his first shoplifted book. As he writes, “a middle-aged female customer came in and asked us if we had The Four Day Diet, from Ian K. Smith. Gracious and poised, she sat down in one of our chairs to take a look at it. About two hours later, we found the dust jacket stuffed into the cushion of the chair. And a fine welcome to the neighborhood to you too!”

But it’s caused him to note that one of the concerns when designing a bookstore nowadays is: “How do you balance a comfortable space with one that doesn’t become an easy target? We gave up the nooks and crannies of the classic bookshop for a more open feel. We’ve positioned our bookcases for better sightlines. But there are still things to be done. My friends at other bookstores have mirrors, and cameras, and security tags. And of course, every bookseller talks about the importance of regular greeting and acknowledgement.”

In an update, Goldin notes he got a call from Ian K. Smith. “He offered to get the thief in question a copy of the book. ‘No need,’ I replied (and this is paraphrased), ‘She still has the copy she stole.’ ‘Oh, so you didn’t catch her,’ which is effectively what the very kind Dr. Smith said in reply.”

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Penny Johnson is the author of Companions in Conflict, published by Melville House in February 2019
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