Tuesday, September 25, 2007
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.