Coconut Grove

Who said bookstores are dying? This iconic local chain is expanding. Again.

Children’s storytime at the Books & Books shop at the Suniland shopping center in Pinecrest.
Children’s storytime at the Books & Books shop at the Suniland shopping center in Pinecrest. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Anyone who insists the bricks-and mortar bookshop is dying ought to think again. At least in Miami, of all places.

Books & Books, the iconic local indie chain, is expanding yet again — to suburban Pinecrest and, at long last, to Coconut Grove.

A cozy pop-up store that opened in May at the Suniland shopping center in Pinecrest will become permanent and formally mark its arrival with a grand opening party Dec. 3, Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan said.

He’ll open yet another Books & Books before the Christmas season in the Grove, where people have been clamoring for Kaplan to consider adding a shop for years. The two-story Grove store, already being built out on Main Highway, is also a pop-up, but Kaplan’s intention is for it to become a permanent fixture as well, he said.

“I look for everything to go really well there and for the community to support it,” Kaplan, also founder of the Miami Book Fair, said.

In its short existence, the Suniland store has become a community gathering spot in a strip mall that functions as a town square for Pinecrest, Kaplan said. He hopes something similar will happen in the Grove village center, which is undergoing a strong revival.

That newest Books & Books will go into a building owned by the family of Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder of Grove-based architectural giant Arquitectonica, who recruited Kaplan to take over a space formerly occupied by Vinos. Upstairs, Kaplan plans to host the sort of readings and talks his main store in Coral Gables has become renown for.

There won’t be a cafe in the Grove store, but it will have a wine bar and enjoy synergy with Panther Coffee next door and Harry’s Pizzeria around the corner, Kaplan said.

“I like that the building is family-owned. I like what Bernardo is trying to do with it. I like that we can help reinvigorate the neighborhood,” he said.

The Grove store in one way marks a return to Books & Books’ origins in a compact corner storefront in Coral Gables in 1982: It will be fitted out with the wood shelving from that store, which has been in storage, Kaplan said.

Kaplan stressed his decision to open in the Grove is unrelated to the recent change in ownership at The Bookstore in the Grove in the nearby Mayfair center. That popular bookstore and cafe nearly closed in July before a new owner rescued it, though its book offerings have been scaled back.

The Suniland and Grove stores are the eighth and ninth bearing the Books & Books banner. Kaplan also runs stores at Miami International Airport, Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach and Bal Harbour Shops, among other spots.

Maybe he should rename it Books & Books & Books & Books.