Friday, July 13, 2007

New Bookstore for the Cayman Islands

Books & Books, Mitchell Kaplan’s Miami bookstore minichain, is opening a fourth location, this one in the Cayman Islands. The new 5,000-sq.-ft. store is part of Camana Bay, an upscale, one million-sq.-ft. retail and housing development on Grand Cayman, and a joint venture with the local developer, Dart Realty. The store is scheduled to open in the first weekend of November, just a few weeks after Books & Books celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Kaplan said he was initially approached by Dart Realty executive v-p Jackie Doak, who was been a regular customer of Books & Books in Miami. "She invited me down, I visited the site, and committed," said Kaplan.

The year-round population of the islands (which comprise Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) is estimated to be approximately 45,000 people, though that number can easily double in the tourist season, while an equal number of visitors from cruise ships stop at the islands each year.

At present, Kaplan is still hiring staff and expects he and various managers will be making the one-hour flight from Miami to oversee construction and prepare for the opening. "The architecture is inspired by the Caribbean," said Kaplan. Café del Sol, a local coffeehouse, will adjoin the bookstore. The store will offer the same type of selection found in the Miami stores--literary fiction, art and architecture books, poetry, classics, bestsellers, children's books and cookbooks and travel guides.

In a press release, Doak said, "We are particularly excited to be included on their literary event circuit, which we hope will bring authors from all around the world to Cayman." So far, said Kaplan, publishers and writers, "have been very receptive" to the idea of extending their book tours to the Caribbean.

For his part, Kaplan said that the store wasn’t merely an experiment but "a long-term commitment."

"Our aim," he said, "is to bring a similar sense of community to Gran Cayman that we have in Miami," adding, "Eventually, I hope we will be able to organize mini book festivals, conferences and all kinds of cultural events."

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