South Miami-Dade: Where Books Go To Die?
|demented-pixie via flickr|
|Good luck finding a bookstore in Goulds.|
But without exception, everything that has to do with books in Miami happens in the center of the county or to its north. Southern Miami-Dade County, on the other hand, is a wasteland of literacy. Or at least a virtual black hole for bookstores.
Not counting Miami Book Inc., a mom and pop paperback exchange in Cutler Bay, there are no bookstores from the Borders in Pinecrest south to Homestead--a stretch close to 20 miles. "Running a bookstore is like a lost art," says Patricia Van Allen, owner of Miami Books, Inc. "It's like kids nowadays don't even want to be seen holding a book in their hands. They want to get everything from the internet."
Van Allen says that the B. Dalton Bookstore that closed half a decade ago in Cutler Ridge Mall represented the last exodus of major bookstore chains to leave the southern half of the county. A pity, she says, for an area that could support more bookstores if anybody bothered to check. "It's like the book industry abandoned the southern part of South Florida."
That might be a reach, says Mitch Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and the unofficial godfather of Miami's literati. "There's nothing nefarious about it. The communities thin out as you get farther south," he explains. "And you can't have a bookstore on every corner." Kaplan says that it's not unreasonable to think that residents of Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and even farther south, will get in their cars and drive to Borders and the mega Barnes and Noble on Kendall Drive, much like they do when they go to Dadeland.
Kaplan says individuals can also get copies of bestsellers at Walmarts, Targets, and other large shopping stores. Finally, he said the nature of bookstores and their popularity is in flux. He pointed to the recent New York Times article on how e-books are capturing more and more of the market for book sales, even impacting sales at chains like Barnes and Nobles and Borders.