Miami, FL, Books and Books and the home of Mitchell Kaplan

***Special Edition***

If you are in the bookselling or publishing business in the United States, then you have probably heard of Mitchell Kaplan and his bookstore, Books and Books.
Mitchell, a native of Miami Beach, founded Books and Books in 1982 in a charming but small corner building on Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables, FL.
The store expanded to its current and much larger location, a gorgeous Mediterranean-style building that was just down the street, in 2000. 

The store has 6 separate rooms of books, here's a shot of the main fiction room.
These days, the store hosts an unbelievable 60 events a month, from author signings and film series to programs for kids and their families.

Recently one of my favorite authors, Leonard Pitts, had a signing for his amazing book Freeman.

And speaking of programs for kids, here is the very kid friendly children's room run by Becky Quiroga, the children's book buyer. 

Here is Becky with Mitchell.

And a close up of a couple of her famous children's book tattoos.

Mitchell and I usually go over the forthcoming season's book catalogs in the store's award-winning cafe. Here he is reading something that I'm sure is very important on his laptop, overlooked by photos of the many authors that have visited the store.

In 1989, Books and Books opened a second location in Miami Beach that includes a Zagat-rated, full-service restaurant, The Cafe at Books and Books.

And in 2005, Books and Books opened another location in Bal Harbour, which is just north of Miami Beach. This store specializes in high-end art and design books, and continues in the tradition of the Coral Gables and Miami Beach stores with a full schedule of events and programs.
Two years later, Mitchell went international with the opening of an affiliate Books and Books in the Cayman Islands. 

Further additions to the Books and Books family were stores in the Miami International Airport in 2009 and another in Westhampton Beach, which opened on Long Island in 2010. And in 2011, Books and Books Museum of Art, in Fort Lauderdale, opened. Mitchell is now looking into opening a store in Key West, which, even though I really don't want to,  may have to visit. :-)

Mitchell is also a co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International. The Book Fair brings hundreds of authors and exhibitors to a weeklong celebration of all things literary to the heart of downtown Miami every November. No where else have I seen so many people of different backgrounds, creeds and colors all having such a fine time together enjoying the same thing, books. Everyone should should go to Miami and experience the Book Fair at least once in their lives.  

Adding to these accomplishments, Mitchell is a former President of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and serves on the Board of ABFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He was recently given the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation.

He lives in Miami with his wife, Rachelle, their twin sons, Jonah and Daniel, who are students at the University of Miami, and their daughter, Anya, who recently graduated from the University of Florida.

The last time I was in town we worked at his house instead of the store. It worked out well because I was able to take some photos for the blog and he got some down time from the store.

Here is a view of the front of his house, I'm sure he mowed the lawn that morning because he knew I was coming to take pictures.

The living room, which I imagine looks a lot like many of my colleagues' homes. His collection of signed and personalized books is a book collector's dream. Mitchell's son Daniel made some of the beautiful hand blown glass highlighting the bookshelves.

 Dining room with the man himself getting ready for our meeting  at the kitchen table.

Some of Mitchell's fruit crate label collection decorates the kitchen wall.

Mitchell and Alonzo in his backyard.
 Their amazing mango tree next to the pool, and thanks for the samples Rachelle!

 Alonzo and Coal, one of the family's 3 cats, are not on the best of terms.

The Kaplan's philosophy on life, hidden amongst the trees. I think at times Mr. Kaplan may wish he could do a little more of the relaxing part.

   Here's Mitchell's wonderful wife Rachelle, Mitchell, and newly graduated daughter Anya.

Books and Books long history has generated lots of crazy and wonderful stories. Here's just a sample of a few he told me. When I owned a bookstore, what I would have given to have been able to say this: 
"It's hard to distill one or two stories from the thousands of author events we've had since we opened in 1982…From Isaac Singer, one of our first, to Patti Smith, one of our more recent, each author event is distinctive….Having 4000 show for Bill Clinton's autographing for his autobiography was a highlight, but so was having a small, intimate presentation by Ralph Steadman at our Gables store, where afterward he presented us with drawings drawn in pen and ink and wine from our Courtyard bar and restaurant." 

"One night, when we were about to close, in walked Paul McCartney and even though he wasn't there as an author, but as a customer, having a wide ranging discussion about Dickens with him is something I won't soon forget."

And finally Mitchell's answer to my Time Travel feature:

If you could go back in time
to any period from before recorded history to yesterday,
be safe from harm, be rich, poor or in-between, if appropriate to your choice,
experience what it was like to live in that time, anywhere on earth,
meet anyone, if you desire, speak with them, listen to them, be with them.
When would you go?
Where would you go
Who would you want to meet?
and most importantly………why?

If I could, I'd go back to the Miami Beach of the 1950's to experience the world I was born into. It would be fun to wander the streets of the city for a month and meet the younger versions of my parents, my grandparents, teachers and others who would become so important to me.

This was an extra long post, I hope you liked it.


AJC said…
Great post, Jon! You have an eye - I love the shot of Mitchell in the cafe.

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