Bookstore tourists: Books & Books in Miami!
By Michael on August 3rd, 2012
When you hit up a travel spot, is a bookstore one of the first places you visit? And does it tell you a lot about the city or town you’re in? We think so!
Bookstores are uniquely suited to represent the character of a destination in their design, staff and most importantly, book selection. The experience of a bookstore, and by extension a vacation, can live on the pages of a mystery set in a sleepy little seaside town or even a far-off adventure read on its beaches.
So break out your sunblock, travel maps and bookmarks! We are going on a trip. All summer we’ll be blogging about some bookstores in vacation destinations. Just call us the Bookstore Tourists
Florida is one of the most popular destination spots in the US. Books & Books has 5 stores in the state so we decided that a visit to their flagship Coral Gables store was next up for the Bookstore Tourist! The store is in a beautiful location that their website describes as “an exquisite 1927 building listed in the Coral Gables Register of Historic Places…original tile floors, a fireplace, beamed ceilings, floor-to-ceiling dark-wood bookshelves, and open-air courtyard and a full-service cafe.” That cafe seems to teem with activity! Becky Quiroga Curtis, Children’s Book Buyer and Event Coordinator says that “with plenty of tables and chairs in the courtyard, our customers often spend hours here at night. Eating, drinking, dancing, and listening to authors.“
That’s not all that sets Books & Books apart, though.
One of those reasons surprised me. I run a kids store so unexpected responses are part of my job. Becky, though, got me with one of her answers to ‘What makes Books & Books unique?’ After several other factors, including the beautiful building and a passionate owner, the last item was “My right arm.” Yes, you read that correctly. Becky’s arm is tattooed with favorite illustrations from children’s books done by the illustrators themselves. Publisher’s Weekly featured Becky’s arm last year so it’s no surprise guests are asking to see her!
Becky says that the Miami community is also part of why Books & Books is distinctive. Participation in local events like Miami Book Fair International and South Beach Wine & Food Festival plus over 60 instore author events a month and book fairs in local schools create strong ties with the community they serve. It makes sense that they’ve been in business for 30 years!
It’s also obvious that their service to that community is taken very seriously. Owner, Mitchell Kaplan, after opening 8 stores is still looking for new challenges, including his latest, movie production. Becky, though, loves the challenge of speaking with a child who has read everything and finding them their next great book! What is she recommending these days? “Anything by Tao Nyeu, Il Sung Na, Chris Van Dusen, Carl Hiaasen, or Lauren Oliver. Also, Press Here, Glory Be …”
The kid’s room at Books & Books is of course, where Becky is happiest (though I may have to join her some day in her other fave…at the cafe with a hot coffee and a cupcake!) It’s full of favorites, including some of Becky’s – Animalia, The Red Umbrella, Delirium and The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Plus “all the classics, such as Where the Wild Things Are or Shel Silverstein books.”
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