Mitchell Kaplan first opened Books & Books in 1982. He has since expanded the bookstore into a chain, with locations in Miami Beach, Key West, Bal Harbour, Pinecrest and Coconut Grove. His interest in literature began as early as high school.
“In high school I discovered what it felt like to get lost in a book,” Kaplan said. “There wasn’t one book, but there were some remarkable teachers at Miami Beach Senior High School who turned me on to so many exquisite writers and their books.”
His literary journey only furthered along with his education. Kaplan had begun a graduate program at the University of Miami to pursue a career in teaching, but ultimately realized bookselling was his true passion.
“I was an English major in college when I learned about all the great bookstores around the world that made such a difference in their communities: Shakespeare & Company in Paris, The Gotham Bookstore in NYC, City Lights Books in San Francisco, to name a few,” Kaplan said.
These models served as the foundation of Books & Books and contributed to Kaplan’s vision for the establishments.
“Having a community independent bookstore has a mission that I believe is essential. After taking a few other roads, I found the right path for me,” Kaplan said. “Shopping in a physical store that is owned locally helps support the community and creates a sense of community at the same time.”
After opening Books & Books, Kaplan also helped found the Miami Book Fair International. The festival has grown into the largest community book fair in the United States. The most recent fair showcased over 250 publishers and booksellers.
Books & Books offers a wide variety of novels ranging from architecture books, to biographies, to cookbooks, to history books and more. Books & Books provides a peaceful atmosphere to study or a place to bask in all things books. For those wondering how the name came about, Kaplan explains its fitting origins.
“Someone once asked me when I was planning the store, “What will you carry?” And my answer was ‘Books & Books,’” Kaplan said.
Books & Books has become a prominent South Florida institution but, like many other businesses owners, Kaplan finds himself facing new challenges due to COVID-19.
“We’re going to do all we can to make it through the pandemic and then continue to bring books and authors to readers throughout South Florida.”