Miami's Most Incredible, Fantastic, Amazing Year in Music!

Will someone please turn off the hype

That achievement came on the heels of Kaplan's June election to the presidency of the American Booksellers Association -- the national trade organization of independent bookstores. First on Kaplan's agenda? Reversing the winnowing of the ABA's ranks. Faced with stiff competition over the past decade from commercial behemoths such as Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart, ABA membership has been halved to a mere 1800 outlets.

Correction: Make that 1802 outlets, courtesy of Kaplan's own expansion of Books & Books into Delray Beach's Levenger shop, a 1000-square foot space he calls "a store within a store," and come March, a new 2000-square-foot outpost in the Bal Harbour Shops, which will attempt to lure foot traffic from Neiman Marcus and the nearby Prada and Gucci boutiques.

The Levenger partnership is logical enough. Billing itself as an emporium of "tools for the serious reader," Levenger's sprawling aisles are already filled with plush leather chairs, handcrafted shelves, flexible lamps, and not least, the august-looking "Stanley Traveler" leather briefcase Kulchur relies upon to project an air of gravitas when meeting with wary public officials. Adding some books to the mix seems like a no-brainer.

Pitbull spent last year "representing" the 305, the only place where people actually buy his CDs
Jonathan Postal
Pitbull spent last year "representing" the 305, the only place where people actually buy his CDs

However, Books & Books' Bal Harbour locale, competing for the credit card affections of that mall's stiletto-heeled fashionistas, is a harder sell. Kulchur reached for his phone:

Mitchell, beyond scanning the photo captions of Ocean Drive, Bal Harbour's shoppers aren't exactly known for their love of the printed word.

"When I opened our store in 1982 I heard the same remarks," Kaplan gently retorts, referring to his flagship Coral Gables location. And when Books & Books subsequently expanded to South Beach's Lincoln Road in 1989, he recalls meeting much the same skepticism. "I've been hearing those remarks my whole life down here: öNothing serious happens in Miami.' Well, Miami has always been underestimated in terms of a literary community." Then Kaplan stops short and notes suspiciously: "Brett, you've written a whole story about this attitude."

I'm only trying to wind you up. But if you think I'm a pain, just wait until your new Bal Harbour customers refuse to buy novels that don't color-coordinate with their living rooms.

Kulchur's Top CDs of 2004 1. Wilco, A Ghost Is Born

2. The Walkmen, Bows & Arrows

3. The Spam Allstars, Contra Los Roboticos Mutantes

4. Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch

5. Ghostface Killah, The Pretty Toney Album

6. Arthur Russell, Calling Out of Context

7. Dr. Dog, Easy Beat

8. Talking Heads, The Name of This Band Is...

9. The Faces, Five Guys Walk into a Bar

10. Scharpling and Wurster, New Hope for the Ape-Eared

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