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Bookleggers Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary With Free Books, Booze, Artists' Flea Market

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Book-lovers, rejoice! Bookleggers is celebrating its two-year anniversary this Saturday, and to show how much they love people who love books, they're giving everyone who goes to their birthday party two free books.

"Everyone gets two books free," says Bookleggers co-founder Nathaniel Sandler. "Free, flat out. Don't bring 'em back. Take the heavy ones."

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Sandler describes himself as a Miami native with a unique resume. A full time writer, he currently spends his time "taking care of a gigantic white and neurotic French poodle named Monkey" and binge-watching Grimm. Oh, and planning monthly gatherings for those literary folk in town.

"Whenever people want to get on their personal pedestals about how 'Miami isn't literary' or whatever, I invite them to Bookleggers and politely imply they are full of nonsense," he says. Turns out, "people love [Bookleggers] - even the ones full of nonsense."

Though he can't recall what initially drove him to start a community mobile library -- "Books? People who like books? A good party? Take your pick" -- Sandler does say how he never quite imagined Bookleggers would take off the way it has. "It's flat out crazy to me how much Miami has taken to it."

Bookleggers began two years ago with Sandler and a fellow writer friend, J. David Gonzalez. The concept was essentially built off the historical sense of the word "booklegger," which Sandler explains is a term used "for someone who peddled in illegal publications, particularly erotica...but selling banned books also applies; [basically] anyone who is moving text deemed illegal by the authorities." Sandler and Gonzalez's version doesn't deal primarily with erotica; rather, it's a cross between a traditional library and a used bookstore.

"It's a pretty new model in the sense that it functions as both; you can take a book for free like a library or you can buy books like a bookstore." And when they're free, they're free - no one is interested in tracking you down, adds Sandler.

"The books are all donations from the community and we donate them back to the community."

The birthday party will be happening at Bookleggers' storage space. Sandler admits that everything has not been fully sorted, "so there are probably some real gems in there to be found."

"We'll part with almost all of them. However, we are going to hold the right to refuse a trade if you pull something really valuable out, like a copy of the Declaration of Independence or a first edition of Moby Dick. Those occasionally fancy or valuable books are sold to collectors and the money goes to funding the library's operations."

To celebrate being around for two years, Bookleggers has planned a "good old-fashioned warehouse party." Taking place Saturday at Downtown ArtHouse, there will be books (duh), booze courtesy of Gramps bar, music, and even an artists' flea market that has been organized by Natasha Lopez de Victoria of the TM Sisters.

"Come for the free beer, music, and [to] peruse the aisles of weird stuff on sale. It's going to be something I think you'll want to be at," says Sandler. "Bookleggers always is."

The event is free and guests will each get two free books. Each additional book will cost $2 or you can trade a book for a book. Bookleggers two-year anniversary party will take place tomorrow, Saturday, July 26, at Downtown ArtHouse (100 NE 11th St., Miami) from 5 to 10 p.m. Follow @bookleggers on Twitter for updates.

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