Bunny Island Key West

Books & Books @TSKW welcomes local authors

From left, Mia Clement and Emily Berg of Books and Books are seen with George Cooper and Judy Blume.

From left, Mia Clement and Emily Berg of Books and Books are seen with George Cooper and Judy Blume. photo credit: Rob O’Neal

In a town with as many writers per square foot as Key West, Books & Books @ The Studios Key West is developing a special place for the work of local authors, regardless of the publishing platform.

“We say yes to everyone local,” says Mia Clement, bookstore manager, “but we only have 1100 sq feet to work with, so we start with a few copies and if they sell, we renew our agreement for more.  With so many books coming in, we have a dedicated section for books about Key West by local authors.  The good news is that visitors from out of town request local work about Key West more than anything else.”

Books by Key West authors about Key West.

 

 

Writers are also avid readers and Books & Books hopes to establish a warm and friendly relationship with locals by competing where Amazon cannot. By being, small, intimate and personal and offering a thoughtful selection of books and hosting writer centered events,  Books & Books hopes to bring Key West’s diverse literary community together. Mia Clement, bookstore manager, plans to create a monthly reading series for local writers to showcase their work and gain a larger audience.  Readings are slated to begin November 2016, shortly after Fantasy Fest.

With the struggle of bookstores, a new bookstore opening is always cause for celebration. When Voltaire Books closed, I was horrified. Nothing replaces the tactile pleasures of holding a book, the ability to be surprised and enchanted by something that I would not otherwise encounter.  I am a big fan of ebooks and love reading my kindle, especially at night with a backlit screen, but my online book browsing tends to be much more targeted and lacks the thrill and serendipity that handling a book by a new (to me) writer can offer.

I own a glossy garden book, a couple of cookbooks that I bought at Voltaire and never would have purchased online.

When I saw this offering, I knew I was home.

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I missed smart and funny cards. The local Publix is just too …well….Hallmarky

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more silly cards

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lush & stylish message notepads and various frippery

 

Books & Books @ The Studios Key West is a locally owned, nonprofit, community store, truly a gift to Key West in the sacred spot that formerly housed Voltaire Books, one of the highlights of my visits to Key West before I moved here. In fact, I bought a few bookshelves from them when they closed their doors, hoping to impart some litglam to my home.

This store began when Judy Blume and George Cooper  persuaded Mitchell Kaplan, founder of Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., to open a store in Key West at around the time that Borders and Voltaire Books closed. In addition to supplying support and book selection, Books & Books, Miami is instrumental in arranging popular author events and readings. This careful collaboration allows the Key West location to develop it’s own following and flavor.   Judy and George are often found in the store, greeting and helping customers make purchases.

It’s wonderful to see the 30,000 or so titled spines crowding the shelves and tworks he less formal stacks of multi-colored covers, face up on large open tables. So many books, so little time…..

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One of the chief pleasures of a book store is touching the cover, the spine of a work, discovering new writers and reconnecting with old favorites.

Judy Blume’s new novel, In the Unlikely Event, comes with a choice of covers.

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Staff choices with brief reviews – include local writer and Key West poet laureate,  Rosalind Brackenbury’s new novel, “The Third Swimmer.” She told me that she considers this novel to be her finest work and I agree, although “Becoming George Sand,” remains my favorite.

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Emily Berg manages the art section,  especially important to Key West after Ben Franklin’s recent closure.

“We stick to basics and carry a full line of acrylic and watercolor paints, brushes and canvasses among other necessities. Our prices are reasonable, we really see it as a service for artists and hope it will be helpful to students taking classes at TSKW. Anything else can be ordered in.”

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In order to succeed bookstores need to become cultural destinations and considering the fact that Books & Books is actually in the same building that houses TSKW, the spillover will help art lovers discover this new literary enclave.

In addition to general browsing and lounging, Books & Books will host regular author readings. Last Friday Nicholas P. Garcia read from his debut novel, Collect Your Things, book one of a post-apocalyptic Knossos Project trilogy.

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I picked up his book as well as The Ploughman by Kim Zupan, which I had ordered a few days earlier.  You can also order audiobooks and ebooks online.
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Loyalty programs, calendar of events, notifications are available at Books & Books @ The Studios Key West.

Address is 533 Eaton Street. Regular business hours are Monday through Sunday 10 – 6. For more information,  call 305 320 0208 or email booksandbooks@tskw.org

 

5 comments for “Books & Books @TSKW welcomes local authors

  1. George
    July 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Thank you, Jessica, for a lovely blog. You might make clear that the store is owned and operated by The Studios. B&B in Miami is providing invaluable advice and assistance, but the (hoped for) success will accrue to the benefit of the non profit TSKW.
    And those cards are all hand-pucked by Judy!

    • July 19, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you for the clarification. No wonder I like the cards so much!

  2. Kelly wheeler
    July 19, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Great post. I love Books & Books in Coral Gables. We needed a store in this town badly. Will you be doing a reading there?

  3. July 20, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I love this. I love reading about local artists, any kind of artist, and that they have a home, somewhere that is welcoming and supportive of their work. It’s been a few years since I was a TSKW resident artist but the warmth and the encouragement of the community there keeps me going some days when it is tough. I love knowing that local writers can read their work and Books and Books is smart to highlight the local. It’s true. When you go to Key West, and you can;t live there, you want a piece of it to bring home with you. Congratulations to all involved with this venture! Jessica, nice post.

  4. February 22, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Yes, this is a fine addition to the litlife of Key West. Still can hardly believe the old Borders bookstore closed down in favor of a pet supply supermarket. In literary Key West! Hope to have my locally inspired poetry book, “Drifting in Paradise,” on your shelves soon.

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