Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bernadette Murphy (Herald Tribune)

Happy birthday and I hope very much you keep going to celebrate many more. Coral Gables must be one of the loveliest bookshops on the planet. Not only does the selection of books provide much food for thought, but the restaurant provides much food for pleasure and adds to the browser's experience. When I go to Miami, I stay near Lincoln Road so I am more familiar with this store. It is smaller and perhaps more charming in comparison. But what is remarkable is how its bright, cheerful persona is so perfectly attuned to the atmosphere on the rest of the street. It's always pleasant, interesting and tasteful. For the casual passerby who wanders in, buying a book becomes irresistible and certainly a pleasure. I look forward to my next visit.

Bernadette Murphy
International Herald Tribune
Neuilly, France.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elisa Albo

Last fall, when I celebrated the publication of my chapbook with a reading at Books & Books, a dream come true, I recalled with Mitchell how nearly twenty-five years before, I would attend the monthly Friday night open poetry readings, at first much too nervous to even consider reading a poem of my own until I shakily did and gradually, over the years, grew more confident so that my hands didn't at least visibly tremble. I also reminded Mitchell of the time I wandered over to the magazine stand in the original store on the night of a reading and to my astonishment, found a copy of Bomb Magazine, in which I had just been published. I rushed over to Mitchell to show him, and I will never forget his reaction: He took the magazine from my hands and standing there, read the two poems all the way through. Then, when I went to buy the four copies he had--and I probably shouldn't reveal this!--he gave them to me. His kind and generous support that evening sustained me for a long time, as I'm sure he had done for innumerable writers over the last 25 years. From the local writers' side, what would we do without Mitchell and Books and Books, our independent gem. Thank you, and congratulations!

Elisa Albo
Poet

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jane Friedman (Harper Collins)

When I hear the name Mitchell Kaplan, I always smile.

Mitchell and Books & Books are essential threads in the fabric of our publishing lives.

25 years is such a milestone. What you have accomplished is EXTRAORDINARY. You have made Miami (a second home of my childhood) a literary destination.

We have shared so many careers together. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for so many authors and for the smart readers who come to you and your
superlative staff to see to their tastes and their needs.

I wish you everything you wish for yourself in the future.

Happy 25th Anniversary, and thank you from your friend and a "publishing veteran,"

Jane Friedman
CEO Harper Collins

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mim Harrison (Levenger Press)

The abracadabra ampersand

The books, of course, are just the half of it. There is an ampersand that joins Books and Books, and it has come to be a kind of totem that represents a union of a deeper sort. The abracadabra ampersand, symbol of the magic door that opens to community.

All the more remarkable given that it is here in South Florida, a part of the country where presumably there is no strong sense of community. Books & Books is the village well, the gathering place for a most diverse, disparate and far-flung network of people. We don’t even all know each other but we are drawn together, and not merely by a love of reading but by something more fundamental—something as elemental, perhaps, as the water in that well.

Only connect, said Forster. And so we do. The sustenance we take and the succor we find is in the sharing of ideas. It is a connection that grows stronger, deeper and more satisfying the more we come to the well. Can we achieve great things because of it? Perhaps. But more important is simply knowing that we can achieve.

Most infrastructures in a community grow weaker the longer they exist. But the infrastructure of ideas grows only stronger. The well simply never runs dry. And the magic door is always open.

Mim Harrison
Editor, Levenger Press
author of Words at Work

Friday, November 2, 2007

Walter Isaacson

There is no better spot on earth than a lovingly-run bookstore, and of such paradises one stands out: Books and Books. It is a haven of civility and letters. I have visited dozens of times, sometimes to talk and sign, but mostly to browse and replenish my mind. Congratulations.

Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
and or Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

David Maraniss

When I think of going to Miami, my first thought is not of the beach, nor even a delicious Cuban pork sandwich, but of going to Books & Books and seeing the greatest bookseller in America, Mitchell Kaplan, who makes an author feel completely at home. Congratulations on 25 years of great books and friendship. - David Maraniss

Rabbi Harold Kushner

BOOKS AND BOOKS AT TWENTY-FIVE

The 25th anniversary of Miami’s premier bookstore coincides with my twenty-fifth anniversary as a best-selling author. But long before I was a creator of books, I was a consumer of books. Bookstores have always been magical places for me, and Books And Books has to rank high among my favorites.

How could it be otherwise when the single most memorable experience of all my book tours happened there. In 1989, I was promoting my book Who Needs God and my tour brought me to Books and Books in Coral Gables. I was about to end my talk by interpreting a parable from Gabriel Garcia Marquez when a paperback fell off the shelf and hit me on the head. It was a collection of Garcia Marquez’s short stories. It seems he was offended by my interpretation. But you see why I consider Books and Books to be a magical place.

The union of the bookstore and the people of Miami is a perfect marriage, a clientele that appreciates good books and a bookseller that knows how to meet their needs. I wish you many more years of prosperity.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

Mark Trowbridge (Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce)

When I think of our community’s most successful businesses and outstanding independent business owners, I immediately think of Books & Books and Mitchell Kaplan. It is hard to imagine Coral Gables without Books & Books, and for the past 25 years, we are most grateful we have not had to. In Books & Books, we have a business whose very heart beats to the rhythm of its customers and pumps conversation into our community. In Mitchell Kaplan, we have a community icon whose generous spirit and genuine bliss are bound together in the pages of a passionate narrative – his own true story. As a Chamber of Commerce, it is reassuring to know that we have an enduring community partner and stalwart friend in Books & Books and Mitchell Kaplan. We thank you both from the bottoms of our collective hearts for 25 years of delicious dialogue, delightful discovery and immense joy.

Mark A. Trowbridge
President & CEO
Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

Beth Dunlop

An Ode to Books & Books

From the start, the name filled our consciousness like so many thrumming tom-toms: Books & Books, Books & Books, Books & Books. For many of us, our lives can be charted by the 25 years we’ve had this remarkable bookstore. My son — just months younger than Books & Books — grew up there, both of us sitting cross-legged on the floor of the children’s room with Miss Nelson (who went missing), George and Martha (having tons of fun) and Bill and Pete (who went down the Nile) not to mention grinches, witches, wild things, giant peaches and big friendly beasts.

All too soon, the grinches gave way to epic journeys, existential quests and unreliable narrators. We were in the “adult room” and following Odysseus, Captain Ahab, Holden Caulfield, John Dowell and Nick Carraway. In sequence, Books & Books opened on Lincoln Road, built its incredible new Coral Gables store and expanded in Bal Harbour. I’d venture to say that the Coral Gables Books & Books, with its elegant rooms and open-air courtyard, is arguably one of the handsomest bookstores to be found anywhere.

None of this would have been possible, of course, without the astounding Mitchell Kaplan. He would call himself a bookseller, plain and simple. But in an era of too few heroes, he is one. He is an idealist, an intellectual, a patron, a public thinker. Without him, we would not have the Miami Book Fair International. We would still be a distant outpost on the literary circuit, not be a must-stop for authors. With independent bookstores under siege from large chains, Kaplan has been a valiant crusader for the homegrown, for the local. And despite the national odds, he’s survived a quarter century with his own very local bookstore. There isn’t an author in Miami (or near Miami) who doesn’t worship him. And he’s family. He’s watched our children grow up; we’ve watched his. His very presence and his passion has made Books & Books a place where we discuss politics, philosophy, poetry, literature, history, music, art, architecture. It has been at the core of Miami’s intellectual and cultural growth.

Now, the very kids who came of age on Books & Books are the ones sitting cross-legged on the floor with their own toddlers, who will be the third generation to learn to love literature and architecture at Books & Books where our history and culture have been safeguarded so carefully for a quarter of a century now. First and foremost, bookstores are about books, but they are also about the structures that house them, and the cities that make them possible. Books and buildings are two key ways we pass on culture from one generation to another, and we should cherish the fact that in Miami, at this very special bookstore, the two come together.

Beth Dunlop
Editor-In-Chief
Home Miami Magazine

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Susie J. Horgan

As Einstein imagined how a beam of light would appear if he could travel alongside it...I too imagine these rays every time Mitchell takes me through his latest dream...which hopefully then transcends onto my images. I have been making pictures of how this literary solar sphere fractally reaches and connects sun-soaked Miami with the outside world and beyond.

It is a magical cauldron mixed with...education...friendships...truth seeking...art...literature...expression...muse...knowledge...and humanity.

I thank all of those who have ever allowed me take their picture...
because you are that very moment which keeps the Books & Books organism moving.

Thank you, Mitchell, because from you comes the electro magnectic charge which ignites us all.

Here's to you my friend,
xSusie J. Horgan

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tone Blevins

a short haiku


pages turning ceaselessly:
work & words at Books & Books
twenty-five autumns,


thanks! tone

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Russell Banks

Was it 1982? It must have been, or maybe sometime the following year, and I was hanging out in Little Haiti and down in Islamorada doing research for what became CONTINENTAL DRIFT and like most people not in the know didn't realize that there was an incredibly tasteful bookstore operating over in the Gables. I wish I had known. Because it wasn't until 1985 when CONTINENTAL DRIFT was published and I was invited to read at Books & Books that I got to visit the store for the first time and meet Mitch and in a single evening go straight to the center of the literary world in Miami. For it was already that, -- the store and the readers and writers and artists who hung out together, drawn together by the books and the readings, of course, but most of all drawn together by the warmth and intelligence of Mitchell Kaplan himself.

There are only a few bookstores that we think of as both classic and historically significant. One wants to call them "bookshops" instead, suggesting a place where books are made and not merely sold, because they function as the center of an entire community of readers and writers and artists. Think of Shakespeare & Co., Gotham Book Mart, City Lights, and maybe two or three others. Books & Books is in that league. They all sold books you couldn't find anywhere else in the city then, but they all also had a proprietor who not only loved books and writers and had great taste in both, but had made a personal mission of bringing those books and writers to the wider community -- whether it was the Left Bank in the 1920s or Manhattan in the 1950s or San Francisco in the 1960s. Those bookshops actually shaped their communities' literary imaginations. Which is to say, they shaped how those cities viewed themselves and how they came to be viewed by outsiders. Books & Books has done that for Miami. It's impossible to think of a Barnes & Noble or a Borders even attempting it.

Sure, all bookstores, whether chains or independents, provide a service; they sell books (and associated products, including espresso and whole grain muffins and scones). But the rare ones, like Books & Books and those other classics I mentioned, can make a city into a place where you want to live. That's certainly the effect Books & Books has had on me and my wife. And it's not about the books or the associated products -- we can find those most anywhere in America nowadays. It's about the specific community of writers and readers that has been nourished and sustained by Books & Books over the last twenty-five years, the folks who gather there to talk shop and exchange gossip and real estate tips and recommend titles new and old that may never appear on the Best Seller lists. One likes to think that a city has at least one place where its collective wisdom resides, where its imagination and self-knowledge are protected and shared with anyone who comes through the gate looking for them. For twenty-five years now, for those of us who love Miami, that place has been Books & Books, and the keeper of the gate has been Mitchell Kaplan.

Russell Banks

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Evelyn McDonnell

I spend a lot of time these days trying to spelunk ideas in the wall-less ether of cyberspace – which makes me appreciate a bricks-and-mortar location all the more. There’s nothing like the physical sensation of being surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books – some overhead, some hip-high and on rollers. A good bookstore is the intellectual soul of a city, and in a city often derided for not having an intellectual soul, Books & Books is a good – a great – bookstore. Mitchell Kaplan has made Miami a book town. He’s a true miracle maker. And he also serves the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.

Though I do think they should get Wi-Fi.


Evelyn McDonnell, author of Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids, & Rock’n’Roll and editorial director of MOLI.com.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Paul George

Books & Books is that rare creature: a bookstore so special, so important that it has changed the way a lot of greater Miamians look at knowledge and culture. From its beginnings in Coral Gables, Books & Books has put the customer first, has made him or her feel at home, has given him or her the opportunity to become part of a community based on knowledge and the sharing of knowledge. Books & Books is appealing to the eye, it is a center of a learning community that understands the uniqueness of reading, of listening to authors, or discussing ideas, events, and personalities. Books & Books has made our community a much better place by providing us with a wonderful experience everytime we visit one of the stores, and, by extension, wherever we go from there with a book or a new learning experience.

Thanks,
Paul George

Mike McGonigal

The shop had already been around a year or so when I discovered it. Being fifteen at the time, two years seemed an eternity. So to me, the store held institution-like status right from its start.

Miami in the 1980s had quite a few expertly-curated shops run by these gentle iconoclasts—Mike Dean with Yardbird Records in the Grove and M.
Leslie Wimmer with Open Books & Records in Miami Beach spring to mind alongside Mitchell. I won't say I took Books & Books for granted at the time, as my trek there by bicycle was thirteen miles round trip; I just looked it up on Google maps so you know it's true. And then of course we must all remember how culturally harsh and divisive the Reagan/ Bush era was; Books & Books always felt like an island of sanity to me. The poetry section alone was so strong that I labored to find anything comparable, even after moving to Brooklyn or Seattle.

The location was so gorgeous and the staff smart and helpful—even to a full-of-himself suburban teen who wrote really bad poetry (that would be me). I received my first real encouragement as a writer at the open mic readings Mitchell himself used to run. And at least once a month, I spent my allowance on these amazing things, books from Grove Press, New Directions and Black Sparrow. These weren't in any library I had access to as a high school student. I had no other way of discovering these books than to find them in Books & Books. In college, I adopted the store's own slogan, that Borges quote, as my own whenever anyone commented on the perilous stacks around my bed: "Dude, I cannot sleep unless I'm surrounded by books!"

I'm so glad that Books & Books has been around for twenty-five years, and hope it continues to thrive for at least another twenty-five! I know that sounds trite, but it's true.

Mike McGonigal
Writer/ Editor, YETI Publications
Portland, Oregon

Monday, October 1, 2007

Edwidge Danticat

The first time I visited Books & Books, I was twenty three years old and a student at the Caribbean Writers Institute summer program at the University of Miami. I had just graduated from college and had some stubborn notion that I wanted to be a writer so I had enrolled in the Masters in Fine Arts program at Brown University. Still needing extra fuel, commiseration and understanding from like-minded writers, I came to spend my summer in Miami, in part, to study with the great George Lamming, a giant of Caribbean letters. As part of the program, we had student readings at the older Books & Books, the one which preceded the glorious courtyard and looked like a fortunate man or woman's extensive home library.

I had never read my work in front of people before and I barely whispered my piece, never looking up once during my very first Books & Books reading. The place was packed with interested readers and in spite of my dismal presentation I still gained some admirers that night. I credit this not to myself, but to the warmth and intimacy of Books & Books. When you read there, you feel like folks are cheering for you. Everyone wants you to succeed. Whenever I am reading or listening to others read, or am just having some of the good food in the courtyard, I always feel like I am with friends. Not just the writers that the books represent, but the people they've drawn to the store.

I often hear writers say that they love Books & Books. And they don't just say it. They mean it, because Books & Books is not just a fortunate man's extensive library (Mitchell's?) but all of ours.

Edwidge Danticat

David Plumb

Books & Books is the best independent bookstore in Florida and beyond. Mitch Kaplan and company invite you to the intimate pages, to the awesome silence between words. Room to room, tier upon tier; it is one sweet literary ballet. Here real books live and breathe. Titles you have been looking for but can’t find? There. There it is. Titles you won’t in other bookstores. Yes. And what a staff. They know their stuff. As an author it is the best place I have read in the U.S or Europe. Beat Poet, Bob Kaufman said, “Everything I planned came as a complete surprise.” I’ll buy that. Thank you Books & Books.

David Plumb

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nan Graham (Scribner)

When I was sixteen, I drove from London to Cannes with an English family whose au pair I was going to be for a few weeks. They had planned their route in order to stop at the out of the way five-star L'Oasis in La Napoule. It was my introduction to the concept of a destination restaurant. Mitch Kaplan introduced me to the concept of the destination bookstore.

Books + Books started as the incredibly cool place, in Coral Gables, and then got hotter and hotter. At lunch, Frank McCourt would mention that he'd really like to go to Miami. Jeannette Walls would make a deal with her publicist to add a city to her tour. I thought they just wanted a little sunshine. But it was the light of Mitch Kaplan they were looking for.

This is a man whose passion for books and generosity to authors sustains us all. That he remains charming and ebullient and indefatigable at all times is uncontested. Put a thousand people in a room at a BEA and there will be a radiant presence, a low-buttoned shirt. It is Mitch Kaplan, a gaggle of authors around him.

Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Grand Cayman. Mitch, we need you in Tribeca, too.

Congratulations and infinite thanks,
Nan Graham
Vice President & Editor-in-Chief
Scribner

Susan Moldow (Scribner)

For people in New York publishing knowing for 25 years there was a literary landmark as significant as Books & Books in a place as culturally and climactically distant as South Florida, has often provided the impetus to keep going in those moments when it seemed no one anywhere else cared. We absolutely demand that you let up help celebrate your 50th!

Warm wishes to Mitch and the rest of the staff.

Susan

Susan Moldow
Publisher
Scribner

Russell Perreault (Vintage/Anchor)

I will always remember the first time I walked into Books & Books in Coral Gables. It was instantly clear that this was more than a normal bookstore: it was also shrine to books. I have never felt such a reverence for books. It was also a place where people share their love of books. The people who worked there and shopped there were real readers who devoured books, and couldn’t wait to share their discovery of great new books they’d read. What more can anyone ask of a bookstore? Congratulations on 25 amazing years of bookselling, and for helping nuture thousands of people in the love of reading.

Russell Perreault
Vice President/Director of Publicity
Vintage Books/Anchor Books

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vivienne Evans

Hailing from a country chiseled from the mist, where rainy tapestries and flowing greens and constant apologies about the weather have always made room for a people who cherish the slower walk, the longer chat, and who have a feeling for the nuisance of time; to find myself wandering on Lincoln Road, one balmy evening in January, 1994, where "old" was commencing its battle with "new", and strip malls were preparing to bury the meadows of our youth; wedged between old velum and peeling paint, I found Books & Books.

As an independent bookseller, standing on the other side of the counter, united with customers in this usually very entertaining, sometimes delicate, often witty exchange of taste, ideas, styles, notions, experiences, sentiments, refrains, or just plain ole' ballyhoo, I've seen how Books & Books has grabbed hold of even the toughest amongst us, and allowed itself to become our tradition, our home, and to many a wanderer from other distant shores, our roots on Miami Beach.

All major and minor figures in the divine literary hierarchy hear the faint rumblings in their veins when South Florida's only independent bookstore is mentioned and book tours commence, and over many years we've hosted poets, authors, prophets, rabbis, presidents, gurus, playwrights, novelists, plastic surgeons, teachers, and given support to those who create beauty, and dare to dream.

To our many customers who flock to reclaim over and over again a parcel of the Books & Books landscape, let us continue to extend to you that sweet and somewhat melancholic embrace, akin to what you offer to the returning pilgrim.

Vivienne Evans
Store Manager
Books & Books Miami Beach

Steven Giles

Who doesn’t admire Mitchell Kaplan and his wonderful book stores—not forgetting the exceptional cast of characters that staff them? Whilst I dread to calculate the time and money I have indulged at his Lincoln Road emporium, barely a day passes when I do not pass through--credit card in hand--only to discover one more must-have title. I am an avid reader and possibly one of a dying breed but there is still the thrill for me of discovery and like a good addict that needs his daily fix Books & Books is my opiate of choice. In the voiceless world of internet trading, devoid of human touch, I hope Books & Books endures for another 25 years – one of the last vestiges of style, stimulation and sanctuary.

STEVEN GILES
Founder/Curator
BASE

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heather Drucker (HarperCollins)

I went to the University of Miami for my undergraduate degree and Books & Books was my local bookseller. I would often go to events, or just to see what new books they had so artfully displayed in their shelves along the store. I graduated with a degree in English and Psychology, and didn't know what I was going to do with my life -- did I want to go to graduate school? Get a job? Doing what? I moved back to my home base, Atlanta, and decided to get a job in a bookstore to bide my time until I figured something out. Books & Books was definitely an inspiration for me, as well as the movie "Crossing Delancey" which I had recently seen which featured an events coordinator at a classic NYC bookseller. The rest is history. Books became my career. After several years in bookselling and then a move to New York to get into publishing, I am now an Associate Director of Publicity at HarperCollins. Books & Books was a major influence on me in my "formative years" as a book lover.

Congratulations on 25 years of being one of the country's best booksellers!

Heather N. Drucker
Associate Director of Publicity
HarperCollins Publishers

Maureen Donnelly (Penguin Group)

Books & Books happy 25th!!!!! Can’t believe we’ve been working together for 25 years------you do an amazing job and I look forward to working with you (dare I say?) for another 25 years. Best event---was the Penguin Classics NBA event hosted by Books & Books at Miami Dade College with Miami Heat star player Dwyane Wade to discuss Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ---who else but Mitch Kaplan could help bring out the softer side of Dwyane?!!!!

Best Wishes,
Maureen

Vice President
Director of Publicity
Penguin Books

Ferdie Pacheco


Romance of Books & Books

25 years ago I stumbled into the interior of the cozy Books & Books. I was captivated. I felt as if I stepped into the set of a Merchant and Ivory movie set. It had character, ambiance, it reeked of atmosphere.

The exterior of the building was pure 1920’s Coral Gables. It sat across from the big fire house, caddy corner from the bus station. It was lovely, romantic and historic. The first thing I noted and loved was that no one bothered me while I browsed through the books. I enjoyed sitting on the window seat. The light was great, the cushion soft and everywhere you turned stacks of books.

I began to pick up my young daughter Tina after school and spend time doing whatever she wanted. At least twice a week she chose to go to Books & Books and sit at the window seat to read a book with me. Those shared moments are magic I felt at home at Books & Books. When Tina was 14 yrs old Mitch Kaplan hired her. She loved every moment working among all of those books.

Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary.

Ferdie Pacheco

Cristina Garcia


When I moved to Miami in 1987 I quickly discovered the haven, the refuge, the oasis that is Books & Books. For nearly two years, I spent every free moment and every spare dollar I had in your wonderful store. It's not an exaggeration to say that you helped me on my way as a writer. Thank you thank you thank you--and a big congratulations on your 25th anniversary!

Love,
Cristina Garcia

Susan Vreeland


To put the right book in the right hands at the right moment, and to accompany it with beguiling words that reach the interior of a person, often a stranger, is an art. It requires study to keep up to date, sensitivity to what isn't said, a measure of mind-reading, and, like other arts, a bit of flare. The booksellers of Books & Books are artists of the trade. They have passion. They love what they are doing. They love people and words and ideas. Their guiding force, Mitchell Kaplan, is a visionary. He reaches out. He sees what can be done instead of what can't. His generosity of spirit is palpable. Even the physical place is irresistible. Ah, if only every community in the country, every neighborhood, had such a magnetic bookstore, reading would again resume its deserved and vital place as an essential, joyous, mind-expanding activity necessary to a humanitarian civilization.

Sincerely,
Susan Vreeland
(Luncheon of the Boating Party)

Les Standiford


Henry Flagler brought a railroad to Miami, Carl Fisher more or less invented Miami Beach, and the beauty of the place took care of much of the rest. But Mitchell Kaplan is, for my money, the man who has given this community a sense of the value of books and literature in our lives. Many have pitched in, to be sure, but Mitchell is the pole from which our literary big-top depends. God bless him, and keep him strong for another twenty-five years.

Les Standiford

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Carl Hiaasen


Book & Books is one of the all-time best independent book stores in the country.

Mitch Kaplan has single-handedly put South Florida on the international literary map.

Just as importantly, he has provided a launching pad for scores of young writers looking to break out in the very tough marketplace of modern fiction.

Books & Books is truly a second home to me -- the high point of every book tour!

Carl Hiaasen

Dave Barry


I never cease being amazed that Books & Books is my local bookstore, because it also happens to be the best bookstore in the United States, as well as the Cayman Islands. Not only does Books & Books have a brilliant yet mellow owner in Mitchell Kaplan; not only does it have a knowledgeable and unflaggingly helpful staff; not only does it have excellent events almost every night featuring a spectacular array of authors; not only is it a great place to spend an afternoon or evening; but it also has the one indispensable element of a truly literary experience: beer.

Dave Barry

Anne Rice


It's hard for me to believe how many years have passed since I first walked into Books & Books, since I first signed in the Lincoln Mall store. Surely, it is one of my beloved book places in the whole country, and I have so many extraordinary memories of being in the store, of signing books, of meeting people, of browsing, of simply roaming through the store --- that I can't separate them out. Miami Beach came alive for me through Books & Books --- through my early experiences at the Miami Book Fair that Mitchell Kaplan fostered and supported, and possibly created. --- And intertwined with every memory is Mitch himself --- his beautiful voice, his graceful manner, his generous gaze. --- Bookstores are surely anointed places, and Books & Books is anointed. It's sort of a sacred space. ----

I miss Books & Books, its atmosphere, its vitality as I do Miami Beach and Miami -- one of the key capitols of the book world. I send my love to everyone there. Thank you. Thank you for all you gave to me.

Anne Rice, Rancho Mirage, California.

Will Schwalbe


I first met Books & Books as an editor; right from the start, it was spoken about with a kind of awe. Our rep would report that one of the booksellers at Books & Books was liking a particular galley, and all of a sudden it wasn't just your flimsy word ("This book really is good, I swear"). You had instant credibility. I next met Books & Books as a reader. I defy anyone who loves books to go into any of the three stores and come out without some wonderful book that you never knew you wanted and now must have. Then I met Books & Books as a writer -- and got to stand there in Coral Gables and speak to one of the smartest, coolest, most fun groups of people I've ever been privileged to address: the Books & Books customers and staff. (Books & Books events are justly legendary.) And last, but by no means least, I met Books & Books as an eater, devouring a Bernie Matz meal, one of the most delicious feasts I've had in years, under a Miami moon on Lincoln Road, and having, with Mitchell Kaplan, one of the greatest conversations I've had in years. Bliss.

So that's when I realized that "Books & Books" is, if not quite a misnomer, then, at least, as a name, incomplete. Because it's really Books & Books & People. One of the great joys of my life is that this funny solitary thing I love to do (namely, read) has brought into my life so many extraordinary people (who also love to do the same, funny, solitary activity). Books & Books & People (there, I'm just going to call it that) does with writers and publishers and readers what Bernie does with ingredients -- bring them together with a special magic, where the sum is far greater than the parts. We all know that books outlive people; but need to remember that books have no life without people.

Will Schwalbe

Javier Sierra


Books & Books es, sin duda, una de las librerías más evocadoras del mundo. Atravesar sus puertas es adentrarse en un oasis de cultura, libros y buenas conversaciones al calor de las letras, y dejarse seducir por la "aventura del saber" como en pocos otros lugares. No hay ya ocasión en la que visite Miami que no me adentre entre sus infinitas estanterías llenas de obras que aguardan a conocer a sus lectores. En suma, un punto de encuentro mágico entre la materia y el espíritu...Felicidades por llevar 25 años iluminándonos el camino.
De corazón,

Javier Sierra
Author

Dan Halpern (Ecco)

Who said 25 years? It wasn’t yesterday, but neither was it 25 years ago, was it? Anyway, I first heard about Mitch Kaplan and Books and Books from every hip publisher in New York, who never failed to find a ticket in late November to the Miami Book Fair, to rub shoulders and share mojitos with the most memorable list of authors ever assembled in this country – poets and politicians (in that order), journalists and chefs, essayists and novelists – every major international writer still capable of boarding a plane eventually found their way to the Miami Book Fair and the welcoming embrace of Books & Books.

The bookstore, as it stands today in its relatively new digs, stands as a testament to the endeavor of sharing the human experience -- a bookstore Borges would have been proud to have invented. A bookstore that’s not so much “independent,” as we like to say, as “visionary,” which I like to say even more.

After all these years, Mitch and his wonderful staff have made Miami a literary destination. For readers, to be sure. And what writer doesn’t want to inhabit a few inches of shelf space in the magic that is Books & Books.

-- Daniel Halpern

Publisher
Ecco Press
HarperCollins

Paul Bogaards (Alfred A. Knopf)

In a way it feels like home.

Possibly this has something to do with personal history, a connection to the Gables and Grove that dates back to the early 1920s when my grandfather left Hackensack (then mostly swamp and pig farms) for a better life in South Florida (then mostly swamp). It was not the place a tourist today might imagine. The terrain was still a little rough, but Opa loved everything about it. The look of the land. The proximity to water. The refuge it offered. He came to Florida, found work as rumrunner and fisherman, and never looked back.

Opa was a great storyteller. He taught me about pirates and guns, gators and snakes, wahoo and amberjack, mysterious islands, prohibition booze and laundered money. He told me about a fight he had with Castro…the stories all sounded too good to be true. When he was ninety-four years old, however, he was arrested at Hialeah Park for assaulting a race-track attendant with his cane. This incident gave me pause, making me wonder just how many of his stories were true.

In a world where everything turns on the present, where lives are defined by the moment, this connection to the past is significant. It’s what defines Books & Books and one of the reasons I come back.

The attraction of greater Miami remains as alluring today as it was in my grandfather’s time. The action may be different but the sense of it is the same. People feel alive here. The settlers, of course, have known this for a long time. Mitch knew it when he broke ground here some twenty-five years ago.

Books & Books offers solace, refuge, knowledge, and conversation. It is a store burnished by history and populated by ghosts (Henry Flagler, Carl Fisher, the Hurricane of 1926). It is a place where you can share stories, read stories, hear one told or tell a good one yourself. It is a place my grandfather would have loved. It is a civic minded establishment where the greater public good is always a consideration. It also happens to be one of the best bookstores in the country, one whose proprietor helped put Miami on the literary map.

A man can walk a long time in this world before he comes upon a place where books are shelved with loving hands and strangers are made to feel welcome. But that has been my experience, and the experience of others, at Books & Books. “It felt like entering a room and being greeted by my family,” one author said to me upon arrival at the store. I know exactly what he meant. It felt like coming home.

As a publisher, as a reader, as a citizen of the world, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge this twenty-fifth anniversary year at Books & Books.

Paul Bogaards
Senior Vice President
Executive Director of Publicity, Promotion and Media Relations
Alfred A. Knopf

Carl Lennertz (HarperCollins)


Of pirates, flames and holding hands

Many are surely to write about Books & Books’ place in the Miami community, but I wanted to tell everyone about this wonderful store’s place in America’s community of booksellers, and especially Mitchell Kaplan’s efforts to keep hundreds of bookstores around America open and thriving.

As everyone knows, the rise of the chain stores, price clubs and amazon led to the closing of hundreds of independent bookstores in the 90’s. The situation was so dire that the American Booksellers Association started a major marketing campaign to communicate the importance of the independents to the publishers, the media and the public at large. Mitchell was on the board of ABA and later served as president, and he was one of the leaders in this successful campaign to give voice to the remaining thousand independent bookstores. I worked on this campaign with Mitch and his fellow booksellers, and together we made it work. Independent bookstore decline stopped, and in fact, almost a hundred stores have opened each of the last two years. The independents’ power to discover new writers, always known to some, is know understood and appreciated by all, and many new books hit the new Book Sense Bestseller list higher than the New York Times list, giving the stores more clout and recognition.

Just as important, the existing indies, like Books & Books, have almost all remodeled, moved to new, larger quarters, or opened new branches. This is fantastic news to authors, readers and publishers, who all benefit from an eclectic, vibrant local AND national independent bookstore community, and for many years, Mitchell has been one of the voices of support, enthusiasm, action and solidarity. Mitchell was also at the helm of the ABA when a new 3-day education summit was launched, attended by the 400 best booksellers in the land. We in publishing still talk about that first landmark meeting that is now an annual tradition.

Why is this situation so unique in the annals of American business? What other business do you know sees competitors pull for each other and give away their best ideas? Sees store owners and managers get on planes to help other stores survive? No other business save independent bookselling. I find that extraordinary and wonderful every day I come to work at a publishing house in New York.

Recently, I was asked to take a visual test to pick some photos that represented independent bookstores to me. I picked two obvious ones: a flame in an open palm and a pirate flag, but then I chose two others that epitomize what being a Mitch Kaplan or any indie bookstore owner these days means. One was of someone handing a cup of coffee over a fence to a neighbor, and the other showed two people holding hands out the windows of speeding cars. These are wild times in the book business, but the owners of independent bookstores hold the fire in their hands and are rebellious in nature, but they share all they can with each other on this crazy, wonderful ride that is the written word.

Carl Lennertz
The Publishing Insider
HarperCollins

Craig Popelars (Algonquin)

Sitting perhaps five feet above sea level, Books & Books is one damn good reason to stave off global warming. With a rising tide of homogenization, ­an Olive Garden here, a Crate & Barrel over there, a Starbucks around the corner, ­Books & Books proves that a business with personality, that’s locally owned, and fiercely independent can thrive no matter what the barometer of economics dictates. And it’s not just Miami that is blessed by its existence, but also the greater bookselling and publishing community. As an independent publisher, Algonquin would not succeed without the kind of passion and commitment that Books & Books brings to introducing good books to good readers. So to the Patron Saint of Booksellers, Michell Kaplan, and his loyal Books & Books entourage, thank you. You have blessed us all. May you keep turning our pages for another twenty-five years.

Craig Popelars
Director of Marketing
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Judith Curr (Atria)


Congratulations to everyone at Books & Books on 25 years. It is easy to see how you have achieved such a milestone and success with seeming ease. You bring genuine enthusiasm and excitement to everything that you do. Always supportive of new ventures and creating an inclusive community, never averse to risk taking. It is a pleasure to be associated with Books & Books, particularly because of the important role you have played in the lives of Atria authors. As a publisher, I’m well aware that the work we do here is only one part of what is necessary to make books flourish. Every day, you perform the magic of connecting individual readers with the books that fire their imaginations, open their minds to new ideas, and entertain them for hours. Atria Books has just celebrated its own 5th Anniversary, and in that time, I’ve come to see the marvelous team at Books & Books as our crucial partners in this business. I’m so grateful for all your support, bright ideas, and creativity. And above all, for the fun we’ve shared together!

Regards,
Judith Curr
Executive Vice President, Publisher
Atria Books, Washington Square Press

Jonathan Karp (Twelve)


When I moved to Miami Beach in 1988, I was immediately told that the best bookstore in town was in Coral Gables, and it wasn't long before I discovered why. I didn't stay in Florida long, but from the relative proximity of New York, I've watched Books & Books thrive, and support many of my favorite authors. In January 2008, we will be publishing a hilarious philosophical travel book, The Geography of Bliss, a great deal of which was written at the Books & Books Miami Beach store. I'm not surprised that the author, Eric Weiner, decided that Books & Books was the right place to muse about bliss: It's a tropical literary paradise. Congratulations on 25 great years!

Jonathan Karp
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
TWELVE

Lisa Gallagher (HarperCollins)

When I moved across the Atlantic to New York from London in 1998, one of the first bookstores I was told about was Books & Books in Miami, and its legendary founder Mitchell Kaplan.

I still remember my first visit. Walking through the door was intoxicating: a wonderful place, where one could spend hours and hours exploring the shelves and tables; the books beautifully displayed and arranged, all enticing me to buy. The only difficulty ever was trying to decide how many books I could possibly carry back to New York.

Whilst the different Books & Books locations are imbued with their own personalities, reflecting their locations and the customers they serve, they all share the same qualities I noticed on that first visit and a visit to Books & Books is always a treat, a tactile experience.

Mitchell himself turned out to be equally inspiring – what an aura! - and his team is a testament to his knowledge, passion and creativity…always open to new ideas, always innovating whilst retaining the core values that have made Books & Books an institution in the local community and the wider bookselling and publishing arena. Their events are spectacular, and their promotion and support of both local and national authors is welcomed by every publisher.

Books & Books was one of the first bookstores I ever visited outside of New York – “O my America, my new found land” - and is still the epitome of everything I love about this business. I’m proud to know them, hope to be celebrating and toasting their success for many years to come.

Lisa Gallagher
Publisher
HarperCollins

Marla Norman (Planeta)


As a publisher, Books & Books has—to put it bluntly—saved my professional butt on numerous occasions when authors have requested a book signing. A date at Books & Books is always a great experience with a guaranteed audience—even on election nights with tropical storms bearing down on the city (I’m not making this up.) I consistently find dedicated readers waiting for my authors.

I’ve also had the privilege of visiting many bookstores around the world, and I can honestly say that one of the best and loveliest is Books & Books. The name alone conjures up fantasies of floor to ceiling books and, happily, that’s exactly what the store is—stacks of extraordinary books, many of which are signed by authors, like mine, who adore this literary paradise.

Marla Norman
Planeta Publishing

Michael Hettich


Every city needs centers of energy, culture centers, places where artists and writers, readers and curious citizens from all walks of life can meet to share their works and thoughts, to try out their voices, to listen. This is perhaps the essential ingredient in the uniqueness of cities we think of as thriving and vivid. Without such places writers and readers are isolated from each other and their larger community. Their work suffers from this isolation, and their lives do too. Without such places, blandness and homogeneity rule. For twenty-five years, for all the writers of South Florida, Books & Books has been the undisputed energy center. Regardless of our accomplishments or the genre we work in, and regardless of how many of our books we sell, we are welcomed here--welcomed enthusiastically to read our work, to listen to others, to hang out and talk--sometimes even to buy books! This has been an immense gift to me personally, as I know it has been for all the writers in Miami. Books & Books has nurtured our hearts and souls, and provided us a safe place to try out our voices, and even (when we're lucky) to sing.

Michael Hettich

Elizabeth Cerejido

How Books & Books Changed My Life

I found Mitchell Kaplan when I was a skinny, painfully shy16 year old living in East Little Havana. I am certain it was the workings of cosmic forces that brought me to him. Intuition and naiveté led me to Coral Gables one fateful afternoon, after learning from my creative writing teacher that a small independent bookstore not far from school was looking for help. After much anguish in trying to figure out where Aragon Avenue was and which bus would take me there, I was standing in front of a kind, sweet-looking man who after only a short while asked me to begin working the following week. Mitchell saved me from working at the McDonald’s on Calle Ocho & 27th Avenue, where I had been offered a job only a few days earlier. Years later we would often speculate about how my life would’ve turned out had he not taken me under his wing.

And so the rest is history. Books & Books became my life, the place I went to when I skipped school in the middle of the day - seeking refuge, wanting to take in more everyday and absorb all I had missed out on. It was where I discovered how to pronounce Rilke and Flaubert (Rilke would become one my favorite poets!). And where I discovered my love of photography. It was where I learned about tolerance, about the power of transformation, about being a misfit, and about other misfits. It was the place that shaped my sensibilities and helped me gain confidence. There I learned I could look at new people in the eyes. I grew up there. It was my college education and the place where I met those that helped define who I am today. To this day, the sense of comfort I feel when I am there is the same feeling as what other people might call “home”.

Elizabeth Cerejido

Diana Abu-Jaber


It takes time and space to make art and to create community and what I treasure in Books & Books is the way it brings the two together. Our precious bookshop has always reminded me of the ancient mosques of Cairo and Damascus which are constructed around a central courtyard. The interior of the mosques are hung with ornate brass lanterns and the floor of the courtyard is made of polished marble covered with silk carpets. Those in search of prayer, inspiration, or solace are invited to remove their shoes and to kneel or sit on the carpets. From the visitor’s perspective on the floor, the sky overhead is soaring and immense yet safely limned by the walls of the mosque. Such holy spaces are doors to invisible worlds: a way to respectfully contain the sky, so it doesn’t swallow us whole. We speak and read each other’s words—metaphysically holding hands—we construct lines of language, thought, and architecture. This, it strikes me, is the essence of creativity: to be offered the encouragement of human communion, which, in turn emboldens us to look up.

Diana Abu-Jaber

Ana Menedez


My uncle Dionisio was the one who first introduced us to Books and Books. Whenever we’d drive down to Miami to visit family, tio would ask us to pick up some books that “Mitch had set aside.” Later, when I started working, I met a man who loved books as much as I did and every Saturday afternoon, we would drive to Coral Gables and spend hours and hours browsing. Today, there isn’t a day that I’m in the bookstore that I don’t run into someone I know. Diana Abu-Jaber and I have spent many hours writing and eating there, but mostly talking. You could call it Books and Books and Friends. Because that’s what the bookstore always was. Not just a place to buy books, but a place to meet other people who loved books, who wanted to talk about books and who would make you feel comfortably part of a community. And there was always the chance you’d meet the movie star who ran the place. I’ll never forget the day I walked in with my uncle and Mitchell greeted him by name. That was just the coolest.

Ana Menendez

James Grippando


September 1994 marked my debut as a published author, a good ten years after I had started visiting Mitchell Kaplan at Books & Books. I don't remember everything about my first pub date, but even fifteen novels later, there is one thing I know I'll never forget.
It was a sunny south Florida afternoon. I got in my red convertible (which has since been traded in for three kids, a dog, and an SUV) and drove to my favorite bookstore in the heart of Coral Gables. I'd been going there for years to browse and dream. This time, however, I walked right up to New Fiction, pulled The Pardon off the shelf and plopped it on the counter.
To my disappointment, it happened to be one of those rare times that Mitchell wasn’t in the store. I made the best of things.
"That's my book, you know," I told the sales clerk.
She looked at me quizzically. "Yes, it is once you've paid for it."
Part of me wanted to pull out my driver’s license, tell her to compare the names, and insist NO, REALLY --- IT'S MY BOOK, I WROTE THIS THING! Instead, I just chuckled to myself and paid her in cash. "Best twenty-three dollars I've ever spent," I said.
She pointed with a nod to the book on the counter. "James Gri . . . Grippa . . . Grippa-na-nando. Never heard of him. Any good?"
"No," I said. "Just lucky."
I still feel lucky—not just to be a published author, but to live in city with one of the greatest bookstores in the world. And you can bet on this: twenty-five years of Books & Books didn’t happen out of luck. Congratulations to all of you who have worked so hard to make Books & Books my special place.
And by the way, it’s no accident that the bookstore owner in one of my favorite Jack Swyteck novels, Last to Die, reminds many readers of Mitchell Kaplan!

James Grippando
Author

Geoffrey Philp


Books and Books: Twenty-five Years of Hope

Writers survive on hope. And as a writer of literary fiction, many aspects of my vocation such as the capricious whims of publishers are beyond my control. The only certainty is to continue writing "true sentences" as Hemingway advised. Yet, over the years another constant has emerged in my life.
So, after I've finished writing and editing, and fold my manuscript into a manila folder with a prayer, there is always one comforting thought. I know that if that the manuscript is published, somewhere in the future, cocooned by walls of books, stacks of chairs, and a small podium with bottled water and a microphone, Mitchell will be standing in the back of the room and applauding--cheering me on as he has done for the past twenty-five years.
But he hasn't just done this for me. He's championed nearly every known and not so known author who has breezed through this port city or decided to fold her sails and live here. For in the bustle of this fast moving city of garish dialects and mushrooming skyscrapers, Mitchell has created a place where writers feel at home--a space where hope can thrive.

Geoffrey Philp
Author

Ellen Kanner

Miami in 1982 was not New York in 1982. There were few coffee shops, fewer punk bars, and for a college kid, it was a cultural Sahara. The only oasis was this small independent bookshop and the guy who owned it. It gave me reason to stick around Miami. It gave me hope.
Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and Books and Books is still independent but no longer small, you can buy a great cup of coffee right here along with everything from bestsellers to Borges, and the store’s owner is a cultural force of nature. It’s hard to think of Miami now without thinking of its hallmark literary event, Miami Book Fair International. I came the very first year, when it was just a little patch along Biscayne Boulevard. It’s now the biggest, best book fair in the country and Mitchell is the guy who made it happen.
It is not always fun, getting older, but I’ve loved growing up with Books and Books. It embodies everything I want for Miami, my hometown – it’s vibrant, it’s diverse, it’s a place where everyone can gather, where anyone can call home. Now if Mitchell could only do something about the punk bars.

Ellen Kanner

Dan Wakefield


If it weren't for Books & Books I would not be living in Miami, nor would I be teaching at FIU where I have been teaching as Writer in Residence since 1994. This means I might not have a job, which in turn means I might be living somewhere on the beach - not as a resident, but rather as a bum!
When my memoir "New York in the Fifties" was published in 1992, I was invited to give a talk about it in Palm Beach. I was going to begin and end my trip there, but I happened to run in to author Gay Talese, who told me "As long as you're going to Florida, you Must go to this great independent Book Store in Coral Gables called 'Books and Books.' They have a terrific reading series, and it is run by this great guy named Mitchell Kaplan."
I took Talese's advice (lucky for me!), I came to Miami, not only read at Books and Books but was invited to a reading of Les Standiford at FIU, met Les, was invited to their annual Writers Conference (Plug: this year it will be in Key West) and then invited to teach the spring of 1994, and the rest is history.
When I started out as a writer, my first novel "Going All The Way" was published by the late, great Seymour "Sam" Lawrence, who brought many authors from obscurity to success (including Kurt Vonnegut, Gish Jen, Barry Hanna, Jane Ann Phillips, Tim O'Brien, and Susan Minot, to name a few) and he always said the key to his own success as a publisher was knowing the people who ran the Independent Bookstores throughout the country. He made personal calls on all the major independent stores, and was able to introduce new writers - or writers who had not yet gained a good audience - with his personal recommendations. The independent stores were willing to take a chance on the ones he recommended. That network of independent bookstores and independent thinkers no longer exists. Mitchell Kaplan and "Books and Books" are among the few still standing. Long may they lead the way!

- Dan Wakefield

Brad Meltzer


It's so easy to throw around the adjectives and rave about Mitchell Kaplan. But what I love best about him -- and everyone at Books & Books -- is that they've never once forgotten who they are or where they came from. That modesty and humility and kindness and warmth is what makes them more than a bookstore -- it's what makes them family.

-Brad Meltzer

Adrian Castro


For the last twenty years or so Books & Books has represented, at various periods in my life, many things-- two book release parties, my first date with my wife, a laboratory for divulging a developing voice, prozac for sick days (those days everything makes you sick), a gathering place for fellow writers, a generous handshake from Mitchell. I credit in part, like I do the early Cameo Theater poetry days, Books & Books for shaping my writer's voice.

Adrian Castro

John Dufresne


When I moved to South Florida in 1989 Books & Books was the only decent bookstore in town, independent or otherwise. Certainly, the only one I knew about. Jim Hall took me in and introduced me to Mitchell. I was so happy to be here after life in small Southern bookstore-less towns. The world of bookselling has changed dramatically in those years, and so has Books& Books. It’s better than it ever was. It’s the center of literary life in South Florida. It’s a shrine. Every book publisher in the country knows that Miami is the place to launch a book tour, and by Miami they mean, of course, Books & Books. Without Mitchell and the gang, without the readings, without the community of writers nurtured by Books & Books, living in Miami would be a lot like living in–I’ll say it–West Palm Beach.

John Dufresne

Christine Kling

I’ve always been a reader and a lover of books. As a kid, my nickname was “The Bookmobile.” In high school, I read about Paris in the 20’s and I thought I was born out of time – I was convinced I should have lived with Hemingway and Fitzgerald and been a frequent visitor at Gertrude Stein’s, and I sailed and traveled half the world looking for a place I could feel at home. Eventually, I discovered Mitch’s store, the Miami Book Fair, FIU and this community of writers in Miami. Books & Books became my Parisian salon and long before I ever published any fiction, I attended readings there. I met real live authors and came to believe that I, too, could be one. When my first book was published and I found myself standing at the front of the room, it was surreal. I’d dreamed that moment so many times I wasn’t really sure if it was me standing at the front of the room or if I was really just sitting in the audience dreaming.

Christine Kling

Tom Healy

I found Books & Books on the first day of my first visit to Miami 19 years ago. It was raining. My hotel room was very small. And my luggage had been lost. But it didn't matter because I had found the perfect place to spend my first snowbird afternoon. And that was long before the glamour and good food or the choice of three differently engaging store personalities. I just sat on the floor in shorts and flip-flops and started reading Dante for the first time - in a translation, believe it or not, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Books and Books has supplied me with five different translations of "The Inferno" since then. The store itself, of course, - all three - is a slice of Heaven. And the great and dashingly-bearded Mitchell Kaplan has been our Miami Virgil.

Tom Healy

Thomas Swick

Books & Books is a small country with a population of approximately 100,000 volumes. It is blessed with an intellectual climate, a rich and colorful typography, a number of increasingly far-flung colonies, an ever-expanding cafe society, a modest but intoxicating outdoor life, a dedicated and highly literate work force, and a visionary leader who welcomes everyone - from famous dignitaries to sun-burnt tourists - with long open arms. Visitors come from around the world - it is a popular place of pilgrimage for writers - but the vast majority are day-trippers from neighboring lands who explore the many dust cover-ed cliffs, sample the edifying local cuisine, and luxuriate in a bookishness unavailable back home. Entry is through either door.

-Thomas Swick, travel editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Barbara Parker


You always remember your first time. Mine was in 1994, when Books and Books hosted the kickoff appearance for my first mystery novel, Suspicion of Innocence. The store was about a tenth the size it is now, a little corner book shop under a faded brown awning, the window displays as crammed as the aisles. But even then, Books & Books was the leading independent in Florida, so I was terribly nervous. My memories are still vivid: the notices taped to the glass panel in the wood door; the cash register on the left as you come in, the children’s section toward the right through a narrow hall stuffed with travel books, and the antiquarian annex upstairs, where reading groups would meet. Walk through a wide opening straight ahead, you're in the room where folding chairs are waiting, and you hope people show up to fill them. When I arrived, gripping my new novel in sweaty hands, the staff treated me not like the beginner I was, but a real author. Mitchell Kaplan introduced me in the warm and gracious manner we have all come to know. He said how pleased he was to host a recent grad of the FIU Creative Writing program. He and his staff earned my undying love, and the evening went wonderfully from there. I don't live so close anymore, but they've invited me back with every book, and each time, it's like coming home.

Barbara Parker
Author

Rabbi Edwin Goldberg (Temple Judea)


Books & Books at 25

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, a renowned philosopher of the twentieth century, used to ask people he met a single, important question: “Where do you belong?” One might think that a philosopher’s question would be “What do you believe?” but Rabbi Kaplan understood that, when it comes to significance in life, belonging trumps believing.

It is not easy in Miami to feel a sense of belonging. So many people here are transplants. Miami’s urban culture, at least as presented in the media, reflects the emphasis on the superficial, the transitory, the values of eternal youth, and often the vulgar.

Even after living here for 12 years, I find myself feeling on the defensive when new acquaintances throughout the country (and world) ask where I live. Don’t get me wrong: I love Miami. But sometimes it is hard not to be embarrassed for Miami.

But I know that, if I could ask said acquaintances to spend a couple of hours in a place like Books & Books, then they would begin to understand the “hidden” qualities that make this place so special. To put it simply, walking into such a place makes we want to belong, and makes me feel that I do belong.

I remember as a teenager growing up in Kansas discovering the New York Times Book Review. We never received the paper at home – I doubt that back then one could – but occasionally you could find the Book Review at a local bookstore – and one day my mother brought it home for me to read. I can still see myself in the backyard hammock, reading about serious books and the ideas they contained. A new world opened up for me that day.

I get that same feeling when I walk into Books & Books. Every time. When an author appears at the store (or at Temple Judea) I also experience that same old thrill of connecting to people and ideas beyond myself.

The bottom line: there is a “great conversation” out there, open to anyone interested in expanding their minds and challenging themselves with new ideas. For those of us who enjoy participating in this great conversation, Books & Books has been a blessing beyond words.

Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
Temple Judea

Lissette Mendez

On Lincoln Road, the fountains are already off. The music’s gone from the cafés. It is so quiet, I can hear the rubber slap, slap of my flip-flops against the pavement. It is the calm before the storm. And for once it’s not a cliché. The tourists are huddled in their hotel lobbies waiting for evacuation buses bound for shelters—high schools in the hinterlands named in honor of obscure leaders. The few passersby clutch their last-minute supplies—gallons of water, pack of Energizers, tinned pinto beans or tuna—walking headfirst into the wind.

Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, The Gap have already closed.

Thank God Books & Books is still open.

I yank the door too hard and cross my fingers against someone from the staff telling me to leave, telling me there’s a hurricane on the way, don’t you watch the news? Why are you at a bookstore? Don’t you have a Publix line to stand in? Generator to fight for at Home Depot? Bathtub to fill? Hatches to batten down?!? I don’t look anyone in the eye and head for the fiction section.

There’s a hurricane on the way and I need something good.

Something smart, but not too intellectual, entertaining but not vacuous. Something to hold me together through what’s coming: six days of cold showers, the truck stop smell of sterno with my coffee, peanut butter sandwiches, 500 mosquito bites from sitting outside to catch an evening breeze. And I’ll be one of the lucky.

I scan the author names looking for something worth the candle when the lantern dies.

Allende, Atwood, Austen…Nabokov, Naylor, Coatzee mis-shelved…Fitzgerald, Flagg and Forrester…I make my decision, walk to the register, pay and head out into the evening. Leaves scrape the pavement with a sound like ghosts dragging paper chains. I clutch my packet of books against my chest, my very own bag of hurricane supplies, as I walk west into a sun that looks like it was plopped out of a can.

Books have always saved my life. And Books & Books has always been my clean, well-lighted place.

Lissette Mendez
Florida Center for the Literary Arts

Bernard Zyscovich

Books & Books is the heart and soul of South Florida’s literary culture, an always beautiful and available place to read, talk, listen, and learn. Devotedly fostering this enterprise despite the vicissitudes of publishing and the incursion of industry giants, Mitchell created an evident and enduring community for readers and writers in a place where nothing even remotely familiar previously existed. His passion and vision have continuously brought generations of South Floridians first rate opportunities to celebrate the greatness of books.

Bernard Zyscovich

Donna E. Shalala

Books & Books is a model for the 21st Century urban neighborhood bookstore. In a world dominated by book selling chains, Books & Books not only sells books, it celebrates ideas and dialogue. For 25 years it has been but a gathering place for those of us in this community who are interested in literature, politics, philosophy, and history, and the countless wonderful authors who speak to us about their work in the intimate and library-like setting of their stores. The University of Miami – faculty, students, and staff – have benefited greatly from the rich partnership we enjoy with Books & Books. From featuring our faculty scholars’ books, to sponsoring lectures and workshops by leading authors on campus, Books & Books works with the University to enrich the intellectual life of the city. On behalf of all your friends at the University of Miami, I send our congratulations and gratitude to Mitch and all the members of the Books & Books family on the occasion of your 25th anniversary.

Donna E. Shalala
President, University of Miami

Stephanie Norman (City Theatre)


Any inspired idea – big or small – finds a home with Mitchell Kaplan and Books & Books. When my partners and I founded City Theatre’s Summer Shorts Festival in 1996, we soon moved our literary dialogue and play reading series from the kitchen table to our community’s living room in hanging up our “shorts” at Books & Books. For all of my personal and professional pursuits, from author events with today’s bestsellers to Harry Potter parties with my kids, I am always graciously welcomed into Books & Books. With a dazzling collection of, well, books and books along with a remarkable staff and full calendar of inspiring events, I am always delighted to lose myself in this cultural. It is indeed an honor to be launching my newest idea, Perfectly Yours 30-Minute Memories, at Books & Books – as I know that Mitchell and company will long welcome the literary world’s many ideas to their doors. Congratulations!

Stephanie Norman
Co-Founder & Executive Director, City Theatre
Co-Founder & Author, Perfectly Yours 30-Minute Memories

Lee Schrager (SOBE Festival)


When Mitchell Kaplan opened up a truly one-of-a-kind book store 25 years ago, I knew on my first visit, his store would be the only book store I would ever need again. Independent bookstores are sadly becoming a thing of the past, but Books & Books has survived and thrived through its world-class service, exceptional quality, comprehensive selection, attention to detail and excellent on site cafes !!! Books & Books feels like family-they know exactly what I like and I never leave without a new adventure, thriller, self-help or cookbook in hand. There is nothing out there like it! Here's to another 25 years!!

Lee Brian Schrager
Founder & Director
Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Mary Luft (Tigertail Productions)

Books & Books from its very first year is a place where I feel transported. Books & Books is a friend of the mind, soul and imagination.I have been fortunate to share this incredible place with others over these 25 years, either by being in Books & Books together or by the books they have received.A city is a dynamic environment when it can have such a place as Books & Books.How fortunate we are in Miami.

In friendship,
Mary Luft
Executive Director
Tigertail Productions

David Beaty

Books & Books is, and has been since 1987, at the center of my Miami world, the place where, in comfort and quiet, I can feed my obsession with books. I can't imagine living sanely in Miami without Books & Books. I've worked hard over the years to transfer the contents of the shelves at Books & Books to my house--but it's so hard to keep up! Whenever I come back to Miami after a trip, I feel untethered until I drop by the Coral Gables store and reassure myself that there are new books--so many wonderful new books!--that I have to examine, and to read. Thank you Mitchell, for creating and maintaining such a delightful playground for book nuts like me.

All the best from David Beaty

Marty Conroy (Hachette Book Group)

I've been selling books for various publishers throughout the South for going on 30 years, and I can count on one hand my "Band of Brothers" of booksellers who have been there for all that time. I'm glad to include Mitchell and his fabulous employees amongst those few. From my days of seeing Mitchell in the tiny cubbyhole of a store on the corner of Aragon and Salzedo Street, to today, with his dominant place in the Miami-Dade County cultural scene, somehow, I always knew, he'd be here to stay.

25 years. Wow. In our business, against all the odds we all face, Books & Books has grown to be a force to be reckoned with, and has always shone through, no matter what obstacles have been thrown in front of them, or around the corner, so to speak. I can say, with certainty, that many in our industry look to Mitchell as a beacon of how to compete, how to grow a business and how to do it with class and optimism. He always has time for a fellow bookseller to share his thoughts with them, to be a mentor and, as he proved as President of our National Association, the ABA, a clear voice to the publishing industry that we, the independent booksellers, are important and must be nurtured and maintained. Without them, we publishers will not discover the hidden talented writers that the independent bookstore can do.

We are truly grateful to everything Books & Books has done for the industry these 25 years, and I look forward to growing old together with my "Brother", as we move forward into the future of bookselling.

Marty Conroy
Sales Representative, Hachette Book Group

Dave Kliegman (Penguin Group)

I was an English major in college. I remember at the time getting all kinds of flack from my family. What would you do with an English major? I really wasn’t sure, but I knew that books had to be a big part of what I did for a living. I owned a bookstore and managed a bunch more before I got my true calling to be a publisher’s sales representative for a large publishing company.

The next question after accepting this position was, “Who is my market?”. Having had a store in central Florida I had heard of a wonderful bookstore in Coral Gables called Books and Books. One of my first visits as a sales rep was driving to S. Florida to call on this store. I was immediately in awe. Even after growing up in the New York City area I realized that this incredible bookstore was just what I had always envisioned my own to be. The gorgeous oversized books I never saw anywhere else- the incredible old first editions, the artwork! This is what a bookstore is supposed to be! That was in 1984, 23 years ago.

Now in 2007, there are three of these wonderful stores in the Miami area. Books & Books remains the standard, the very high standard for bookstores all over the country. Happy Anniversary!!!!

Dave Kliegman
Sales Representative, Penguin Group

Ana Veciana-Suarez


I love the SMELL of Books & Books. I'm not talking about food smells from the cafe. No, no. I'm referring to book smells -- the scent of paper and leather and wood and thoughts. It's so special and sensual.

-Ana Veciana-Suarez

Joe Feinberg

I don't remember how many years I've been a fan of Books & Books, but in the last 7 years there have been some memorable times for me at this wondrous book shop.
In the year 2000, I enjoyed introducing my dear friend, Robert Lacey & his marvelous book, the highly researched, "The Year 1000," about life in England one thousand years before. A large attentive crowd enjoyed this best selling author.
In 2005, I was pleased to suggest to a sweet friend, Nancy Grace, that she should come to Books & Books on tour with her book, "Objection." She captivated a large crowd with her down to earth style & her smart book on the justice system.
In 2006, I had the pleasure introducing my dear friend, travel writer, Herb Hiller
discussing, "Highway A1A Florida at the Edge." His fascinating journey through Florida & remembrance of personal experiences charmed a large crowd.
Attending numerous book events at Books & Books is an always exciting moment, enhancing my enjoyment of people & books.
No one does it better than Mitch & Cristina at Books & Books!

-Joe Feinberg

Tracey Broussard


Once there was a girl who saved nickels for precious visits to the bookstore. After hours in the aisles she would cart home treasures and climb the Mimosa in the yard. Nestled beneath its canopy she would read the pages and dream of the world only books could bring her.
Some days she was a writer, sharing her work. Other times she was Harriet the Spy, skulking around scribbling secrets. Sometimes she felt grand, thinking maybe she could make a difference in someone’s life. Once she even imagined shaking hands with a president.
When the girl grew she found a place even better than her tree. It was the world of Books & Books. There she scoured shelves for stories, scribbling secrets at the café which she turned to fiction then shared with people at the very same store.
While most booksellers cared just for bottom lines, Books & Books welcomed all. It inspired her to publish others. They read at the store and the audience smiled. The girl was grateful. She felt she had made a tiny difference. Later she brought her sons to the store. There they shook hands with a president.
The girl marveled at the world Books & Books had brought her. Mitchell Kaplan had created not just a cornerstone of book culture, but the cornerstone of her community. It was a place where dreams came true.
-Tracey Broussard

M. Evelina Galang


Book Party

On Friday nights people in Miami walk through iron gates and into acourtyard bordered by stucco walls and hanging green vines. They gather inclusters like stars glimmering in night skies. Wine fills glasses. Sweet chocolate floats on forks. Poets carve poems on sheets of loose-leaf, on parchment paper, in sketchpads. Single women toss words to one another –stories of the week -- lovers who’ve let them down, children who’ve grown away from them, work that bores them. Meanwhile, musicians strum gut-string guitars, pump the skin of bongos and rock dried gourds. Windowpanes frame people thumbing through books along walls where words pile up one on top of the other, and stories hang from ceilings or swirl beneath the feet of patrons. Inside, books come complete with authors who speak their stories. Professors hide behind stacks of books and tap on laptop keys, grade papers, nibble at cheese plates. Students mull through novels, break them into parts. Children flip colorful pages and sit on stuffed elephants. Mitch wanders from table to table – reading glasses draped halfway down his nose, hair wild with thought. He touches a shoulder, offers a warm smile,connects books to people.

-M. Evelina Galang, Author of One Tribe

Paul Lazarus

It is impossible, of course, to separate the store (now stores) from Mitch Kaplan. His contribution to Florida authors, basic literacy and standing in the international book market is a remarkable achievement. For a reader to walk in and inquire about a book is a throwback to the days when booksellers actually read the works on their shelves. Nowadays, readers are lucky if the sales staff can pronounce the author or the title.

In my 20 years in Miami, I have often been tapped by Mitch to interview Hollywood figures who penned their memories and their words of wisdom. While there was certainly much to be said about spending time with Isabella Rossellini or Faye Dunaway, for me, the real treat was hanging out with Mitch.

He nurtured my writing career, as he did so many others, affording me the chance to do evenings in the Coral Gables emporium. When the First Amendment appeared under attack a few years back, he was a willing advocate when we took our concerns to the publisher of the Herald.

Forgetting basic questions of religious background, when and if the time arrives to have literary figures canonized, Mitchell Kaplan is my nominee.

Paul Lazarus
Author

Gonzalo Barr


Twenty-five years ago, I was a bookseller. From August through December 1982, I was assistant manager of a bookstore on Miracle Mile that no longer exists. Books & Books opened a couple of blocks away. From the first time I went there, I was struck by the wood floors, the tall ceilings, the light. I introduced myself to a fellow behind the cashier. After small talk, we agreed to refer customers to each other, people who requested books we didn’t carry. We even shook on it.
He lived up to his end of the bargain. Soon, I had people coming in and asking for the kind of books that no self-respecting bookseller would carry.
So I had to reciprocate.
One day, a little old lady walked into my store and declared, “I’m looking for a book.”
“Do you know the title?” I asked her.
“No,” she said.
“How about the author?”
“Nope.”
“What about the cover?”
“Red,” she said. “Little.”
We had one copy of Mao’s little red book, but I didn’t mention it.
“I’m sorry...” I started to say. Then it came to me: my chance to reciprocate.
I asked her, “Have you tried Books & Books?”


Gonzalo Barr
Author

Laura Cerwinske

Where else would we go — to be surrounded with literary conversation culture and curiosity good food and friendliness encouragement for the written word and the pleasures of those words spoken to welcome crowds.Where else would we go -- to loll and linger in a Gables courtyard like civilized people in a casual country, a little literate country of our very own created explicitly for us, the lucky readers and listeners and teachers and talkers, for whom Mitchell has cultivated our perfect oasis.
-Laura Cerwinske, Author

Pat Saunders

GOOD BOOK STORES (not fences) MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS! We, at the University of Miami, have been fortunate to be part of the Coral Gables community where our local Books and Books is located. Over the last twenty five years we have teamed up with Books and Books to share many great literary events: we have partnered to host the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute, to numerous readings by novelist including: Chuck Palahniuk, Edwidge Danticat, Manette Ansay, Abraham Yehoshua, Maureen Seaton, Evelina Galang, Lester Goran, Oonya Kempadoo, Ngugi wa Thiong'o. We should all be so fortunate to have neighbors like Books and Books -- their generosity goes well beyond the usual cup of sugar or stick of butter! Oh, did I mention that they have AMAZING desserts in the Café, too!

Patricia Saunders
Assistant Professor of English
University of Miami

Lester Goran

Turns out one of the finer experience connected with the venerable Books & Books is reading there a lot of times, shaking hands with students, grad and undergrad, and then going later on other great nights at eight to hear the same students, published themselves, read from their work, shaking hands, lovely cycle.

Carolina Hospital


Books and Books is my literary home. Those of us who love books and believe in the power of the written word owe much to Books & Books and Mitchell Kaplan. His support of local writers and his commitment to developing the literary breath of our community has been unwavering in 25 years. Thank you and congratulations!

Seth H. Bramson

It is not hard to wax rhapsodic about the mecca of greater Miami's literary luminati but that is NOT the only reason why we should and must memorialize both Books and Books AND Mitchell Kaplan. Mitchell, through the store locations and the Book Fair, has given authors, primarily local but certainly nationwide, the opportunity to present their works at the stores and at the Fair. For many, particularly those being published for the first time, that has been a rare chance to become known in the Miami community, not just among bibliophiles but among and within the general public. Perhaps best of all, the Books and Books attitude that nothing is more important to our community than the culture of books and the opportunities they bring to enhance the people and the place brightly spotlights Mitchell's feelings about literacy, learning and the value of reading--and expanding one's knowledge of thousands of topics—to the Miami metropolis. For me, now the author of 12 books and working on five more, there is a comfort level in knowing that, indeed, there is and will be a Books and Books to support our work, not just at the selling end but in and with the encouragement that both would be and current authors receive from Mitchell and the staff. So to our friends at Books and Books, to all of you who have done so much for so many of us, and to paraphrase an old saw, "here's lookin' at you, kids, and expecting to see you at the 50th!"

With love from Mr. Miami Memorabilia, Seth H. Bramson

Ricardo Pau-Llosa


Books & Books is an oasis of individuality in a city committed to groupthink.

Ricardo Pau-Llosa