he had no master plan for Books & Books.
“For me, bookselling is more about the
journey than anything else,” he says. The
growth “was organic. It happened slowly.”
The Coral Gables store outgrew itself, and
when a 9,000-sq.-ft. space in a historic
building (which was across the street from
an open-air courtyard) became available
in 1999, Kaplan jumped at the chance
to move. They renovated the 1927
Mediterranean-style building, exposing
the original tile floor in certain places and
adding hardwood flooring in others. Its
two front rooms had drop ceilings
removed, transforming them into wide-open beamed spaces.
In 2005, the owners of the Bal Harbour
Shops convinced Kaplan to open a bookstore at the luxury fashion center. “It’s the
most high-end retail mall in the world
when measured by square foot,” he said.
He couldn’t refuse the offer. It would take
his brand to a whole new level.
Then, at the end of 2014, Kaplan
opened the newest Florida store, Café at
Books & Books, in the Arsht Center.
“Once we had opened three of our own
stores, we were able to develop systems,
put things in place so that we could do
more,” Kaplan says. That ability came in
handy when Kaplan was approached by
developer Dart Realty, and in December
2007 Books & Books opened in Camana
Bay, a multimillion-dollar development
in the Cayman Islands.
“I think the first words that came to my
mind were why not?” Kaplan says. “And
with why not? firmly in mind, I opened
myself up to a million possibilities. I could
take chances doing things I found satisfy-
ing and fit in our mission to further a sense
of community while promoting literary
culture. Why not take a few chances?”
The Westhampton Beach store opened
in July 2010, after publishing veterans
Jack McKeown and Denise Berthiaume
approached Kaplan about a possible affil-
Then came the airport location in
Terminal D at Miami International Airport,
created with Areas U.S.A. In addition to
these locations, there’s also the Newsstand,
by Books & Books. Developed with Doug
Levine, the founder of Crunch gyms, the
newsstand brings the coffeehouse-book-store concept to downtown Miami’s
Southeast Financial Center.
Kaplan remains open-minded toward
any opportunity that might come his way.
Two years ago, Books & Books teamed up
with the Coral Gables Museum, located
next to the Coral Gables bookstore, to
open a museum gift shop featuring books
about the region, sidelines, and art. He
also continues to bring in local authors for
events, hundreds a year, he said, sometimes two a night in Coral Gables. And
these days, many of the readings are
streamed live on the store’s website.
Consignment arrangements with
around a dozen publishers have also
boosted business for the Books & Books
stores. Each store is organized with special sections devoted to each publisher.
It’s a “scan-and-pay model,” Kaplan says.
“My sales with publishers I work with on
consignment are significantly higher
than they were under a more traditional
model.” In another initiative, for some
time Books & Books has tapped into the
area’s large Spanish-language speaking
and reading population, offering Spanish-language events and books. “They’re very,
very popular,” Kaplan notes.
Over the last several months, Kaplan
has teamed up with Albertine Books, a
New York reading room and bookshop
devoted to a French-American intellec-
tual exchange. As a result, he has launched
a French-books section, with about half
its titles available at the store through
consignment. Down the road, he hopes
to bring in books written in and trans-
lated into other languages, he says. “If
there’s a need, why not?”
Then there are Kaplan’s personal proj-
ects, the Mazur/Kaplan Company, a film
production company that has purchased
the movie rights to books such as The
Silent Wife, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,
and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel
Pie Society. He’s even dabbled in publishing,
through B&B Press, a hybrid publishing
program he formed with publishing vet-
eran Ausbert de Arce.
“I’m passionate about everything I do,”
Kaplan says. “I think that’s the trick. The
trick is to keep the passion alive.” ;
to our dear friend
and all the staff at
Books & Books
for being named the
of the Year
from all of us at
Customers mill about in front
of Books & Books’ Coral
Gables store. Mitchell Kaplan
(above) opened the first Books
& Books outlet in 1982.