By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 27, 2009 at 11:15 AM

The organizers behind The Open Book -- a new book co-op opening in the former Schwartz Bookshop space in Shorewood -- wanted to celebrate their grand opening on Sunday, Nov. 1. Then, a volunteer pointed out that was the same day as the Packers / Vikings game and the group decided Nov. 2 would make more sense.

"We're not dumb. We're not even going to try to compete with Brett Favre," says Keith Schmitz, the driving force behind The Open Book, 4093 N. Oakland Ave.

The opening date is subject to change, but at this point, Schmitz feels confident that he and the rest of the staff and volunteers will be able to make the deadline.

"We want to open as soon as we can to offer holiday shopping," he says.

In mid-March, just a couple of weeks before the Schwartz location closed its doors, Schmitz had the idea to model a cooperative bookshop after The Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago.

"Open Book will be a bookstore for the community, created by the community," says Schmitz.

Schmitz -- who calls himself "more of a consumer of books than a purveyor of books" -- teamed up with former Schwartz manager Lisa Zupke and moved forward on his plan. Currently, Schmitz serves at the Open Book's Chairman of the Board, with other board members including Max Shavers, Kit Vernon, Susan Faulk and Walter Chossek.

The Open Book's funding has been its biggest obstacle, but Schmitz says they have enough money from early memberships, short-term loans and personal lines of credit to get the pages turning. Plus, he says, there is a possibility that the Village of Shorewood will kick in support.

"We're still in the negotiation process (with the village), but it's a possible source," says Schmitz.

The Open Book will offer a mix of new and used books, a cafe -- the coffee vendor has not been determined -- and will serve as community space for book clubs, authors, poets, musicians, speakers and children's events. It will also sell gifts and magazines.

So far, 434 people pre-purchased memberships, which are available at four different levels. The "John Updike" is $50 and offers a 10 percent discount for life; the "Ernest Hemingway" is $100 and offers the 10 percent discount and one free book every year; the "Jane Austen" is $250 and provides a 10 percent discount and two free books every year; and the "William Shakespeare" is $500 and up and offers a 10 percent discount, three free books and the annual opportunity to meet a favorite author who makes an appearance at the co-op.

In attempt to keep costs low, Schmitz says The Open Book will stock fewer books than Schwartz did and will rely heavily on special orders.

"You will be able to get a book in your hands as quickly as you can through Amazon," he says.

Daniel Goldin is the manager of Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., an independent bookshop that opened in another former Schwartz space last spring.

"I don't want to be cast in the 'cranky bookseller' role, but I'm certainly worried about how The Open Book is going to affect my business," says Goldin. "Boswell has a lot of great customers in Shorewood, and have done several projects supporting the area schools and library."

Schmitz says The Open Book's client base is different from Boswell's, with more of a focus on North Shore consumers. "We will be tailored to what the North Shore wants and needs," he says.

Goldin, however, still questions if there is enough room in the struggling independent bookshop market for both businesses. 

"I'm hoping that many of Shorewood's readers will continue to shop at my store, which is, after all, only 10 blocks from the village line," he says.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.