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tv   About Books Mitchell Kaplan of Books Books Bookstore  CSPAN  January 16, 2022 7:30am-8:02am EST

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♪ >>s on" about books" we delve into the latest news about the publishing industry with interesting insider interviews with publishing industry experts. we'll also give you updates on current nonfiction authors and books, the latest book reviews, and we'll talk about the current nonfiction books featured on c-span's booktv. ♪♪ >> host: and welcome to 2022 and the "about books" podcast and
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program n. this first episode of the new year, we'll talk with mitch kaplan. he's the owner of the books and books bookstore chain in the miami area, and we'll get an idea of how his business has fared over the past two years. let's start with some publishing industry news. over the holidays three best selling authors died. joan didion wrote 11 books including slouching towards bethlehem and the year of magical thinking. she was known as a leading voice in the new journalism movement of the 1960s. biologist edward o. wilson of harvard spent his 70-year career study thing insects, specifically ants. among his numerous are books was the 2013 social conquest to -- [inaudible] and his 2020 biography, tale from the ant world. and bill hooks focused a great majority of her writing on race and feminism. she released 30 books over 40
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years including her 1981 debut, ain't i a woman, and in 1997 released -- a writing life. well, all of these authors have appeared on "in depth," and you can watch their appearances anytime by visiting booktv.org and searching their name using the search bar at the so much the page. now, in other news, "the new york times" book review recognized that the 125th anniversary by asking readers to vote on the best book published over that 125-year period. harper lee's to kill a mockingbird was the winner followed closely by j.r.r. tolling yen's the fellowship of the ring and george orwell's 1984. and print book sales were down 2% for the weekend ending
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december 18th. adult nonfiction books, which is the focus of much of what we do on booktv, fell 7% but are still up over 4% for the entire year of 2021. well, over the past two years during the pandemic booktv has checked in with bookstore owners throughout the country to see how they're faring. one of those book bookstore owners we've talked to is mitch kaplan whose chain is books and books bookstores in the miami area. mr. kaplan, if you could, give us a recap of what the past two years have been like for you. >> guest: oh, peter, first of all, it's great to be back with you. it's great to be speaking with you. as just about everybody in this country the last two years have been, you know, a time for a lot of creativity in terms of getting through it.
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we had to pivot in so many different ways as a business. we had to, we had to find more online sales. we had to go and kind of scrub our markets and find out where we could find corporate sales. we started doing fulfillment, actually, and providing a service to other literary organizations that were no longer meeting in person that needed to ship books to people that they were -- online. so we did fulfillment. our marketing move from, marketing online moved from more institutional kinds of e-mails into something that was much more sales-based. and then, of course, the programming. you know, we're always very proud of we do over 3-400 events through books and books, and all of them typically were in person. and i had to learn and my whole
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team had to learn just what zoom and crowd cast, just what they were. i don't think we'd ever heard of them prior to the pandemic. and so we actually move on a dime. we're very proud of everybody here at the store by being able to announce some amazing virtual events. and it allowed for some things that we weren't able to do in person. we were able to put together people all across the country in one virtual event. that was, you know, just one thing. you know, i have a podcast myself which is called the literary life, and what i would do is, basically, interview people who came through the store. not as many people are coming through the store, new authors and people in the literary community. i was doing it by zoom, and that was interesting. the miami book
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fair went hybrid. many of your listeners know because you cover it so beautifully that we do the miami book fair, and we've done it through miami-dade college, and we've been involved with it from the beginning. and this year we -- [inaudible] and this year we had a hybrid fair. so we had about a third of the amount of the authors that were there, and then we had two-thirds of them who were on line doing a bunch of things that way. i'm also involved with -- [inaudible] writers' conference. and year was very exciting because we were many that lull around january, that covid lull, and we're able to -- the writers' conference in sun valley. it was done in person. and and it was really exciting after a year and a half to have
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people gathering together again. you know with, so those are some of the, those are some of the exhausting things that we had to put up with over these last two years. nothing along the lines of what so many others had to put up with. we had to make sure their -- that our staff was healthy, that our customers had a healthy environment to come back to. so we always and still do require everyone who walks in the store to be wearing masks, and we've been pretty vigilant about that. we've had to, you know, support with this new variant, people seem to be getting sick left and right, and we've been having to juggle, you know, staff and make sure that they're well, and, you know, find temporary replacements because we want our staff to be able to go home, be
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safe and not feel like they have to come in. so all of those things are, you know, what all of us -- anyone in business has had to go through. and those are some of the things that we at books and books have had to go through. >>s well, mitch kaplan, how has foot traffic been in the last six months, especially during the holiday period, and with zoom have you been able to expand your reach, your market world wild? >> guest: yeah -- worldwide. i think the good news is that people are reading and people have come back to reading and people have come back to bookstores. so, you know, whether it's more online sales or people coming into the store, our numbers at our book shops were higher than they were pre-pandemic. and that'sesome -- that's something that i think we're finding with lots of small businesses who have been able to
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survive this, that we're finding a very, very vibrant reading community out there that have been hungering to read. a lot of people have been working from home which gives them a little more time to be able to read. you know, so -- and people want to use books as a they always have to find out what's going on in the world and also to use them as escape. so it's been really, really heartening to see how many people, you know, are actually back with a book. and the other thing that's been very cool for me is over the last two weeks during the christmas holiday intense season, you know, i've been working on the floor, and to watch and see the amount of younger people who are coming into bookstores. it's really, it's really, really heartingenning that this next
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generation is discovering the kind of analog world of books just like they're discovering in many ways the analog world of music through vinyl records. sales of those are also going up as are watches and other kinds of things as we move into a more digital world. people are hungering for the past. >>s well, it seems that e-books -- >>s well, it seems that e-books -- [inaudible] as opposed to physical bookings. >> guest: yeah, that's been happening for a while. the thing that has been on the ascendancy digitally are digital audio bookings. those are really, really developed. and i think that's because of people's lifestyles. although they're not commuting to listen, maybe they're exercising and listening, they're taking walks, you know, the tinge -- digital audio book
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has really found its space in our world. >>s mitch kaplan, at one point during the pandemic, did you think you were going to have to shut one of the bran of. s of books and books down? >> guest: well, we actually did. we for 30 years had a store right on lincoln road, right on the famous south beach. we were going to stay, but we couldn't work out the arrangement with the landlord. they still wanted to be very, very high, pre-pandemic rates, but, you know, we couldn't be certain. so that did happen. but then we opened, you know, right before the pandemic another store in a place called coconut grove which is a part of miami, and that has started to really boom, you know, because it's kind of a local place where locals come and walk.
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and so that area's begun to rise. so that has picked up some of the slack from our store that we had to close. our other stores, pretty much the other ones remained intact. host: are you looking ahead to author in-person events again? >> guest: yeah, very much so. very much so. before omicron sort of started taking over, we were planning for many of them. and over the last few weeks, we're not doing any author events inside anywhere. but as you know, our main store in coral gables has a gorgeous courtyard that's outside. so, actually, a couple nights ago we did an outside event in person with an author. we limited it to about 30 people who could socially distance, and it was quite successful and quite moving. i'm looking forward to the time when we can present authors in
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person so they can, you know, meet their readers, readers can be exposed to the authors. this is nothing like it. >> well, you do bring up the miami book fair, and mr. kaplan land is one of the founders of the, what, 30-year miami book fair now. >> guest: 38. >> 38 years, and booktv has covered it for most of those years. you mentioned hybrid. we went hybrid with our coverage this year as well. we usually have a set down there and bring in authors and do call-ins, we just covered a couple of author events this year. what are the chances that it's going to be a full-on festival again? >> guest: well, a lot has to do with the virus. we're very excited about 2022. interestingly enough, this is also books and books' 40th anniversary. and i keep asking myself, how did this happen? [laughter] how did 40 years go by so very
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quickly. so there'd be nothing more than i would like than to be able to have an in-person miami book fair as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. we're going to be celebrating the anniversary all year long, in fact, highlighting the different community groups, the arts organizations that have meant so much to us. and, of course, we'll be thanking our customers and authors and all of the -- everyone from the literary community that has,s you know, without them i don't think we would have made it 40 years. so i'm very, i'm very hopeful. i mean, so much, i mean, all of us, all of us in this world have come to understand that so much depends upon not a red wheelbarrow, but so much depends these days upon what's happening with covid. >>s well, mr. kaplan is known
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nationwide for his work as a bookseller. he won the national book foundation's literary award in the past. he's also be the president of the american booksellers associate. i want -- association. i wanted to ask you about a couple of larger issues. the mergers happening with the publishers, how does that affect you as a bookseller? >> guest: well, that's, you know, that's really, really a good question. i'm not as concerned with the mergers as i am with the consolidation and lies of amazon and what's happened and how they've been able to kind of suck the air out of so much and what happens with, you know, with not only book selling, but publishing. i think the monopolization that they, the monopoly that they
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pose is more dangerous, to me, than anything that's happening with the consolidation of publishers. to be honest. i mean, fleshers -- publishers, part of the reason for that is there's been a consolidation that's been going on for over 20 year, so that horse is kind of out of the barn and has been out of the barn for so very long. but ironically, and i think what's kind of cool when we think about what's happened over the last few years, most publishers -- and that includes small presses and independent presses as well as the big, consolidated presses -- are finding that this year with, last year was probably one of their best years on record. so that's a good thing. now, you know, it's, you know, we don't know what's going to happen. most people are, you know,
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wondering what's going to happen post-pandemic, in post-covid. and i think we'll have a clearer picture of the health of the industry, you know, when things get a little bit back to normal, i think. >> host: one other eshoo, i wanted to ask you if you have any thoughts about the unionization of the politics and prose bookstore here in washington. >> guest: well, i'm so close to everyone at politics and prose if, the owners as well as the staff, that i don't think i can really comment on it other than to really say i'm sure that those owners and staff and everyone working there, they all want to do the right thing and that they will. and i think there'll be an accommodation that'll be made all the way around to everyone's satisfaction and benefit. >> host: well, we can never have mitch kaplan on booktv without talking about what he's reading and some of the books that have
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caught his attention. mr. kaplan, you sent us your list ahead of time, and one of the books was one that was published, i think, in the 1920s, zora neale hurston, you don't know us negroes. >> guest: actually, this is new work by her. zora neale hurston actually worked in those days, but this is new work that's been uncovered. and i believe it's analogized for the very first time. it's very exciting, a new zora neale hurston book particularly since we claim her as a floridian, so many of us here do. and this is one of the 2022 nonfiction titles that i'm really looking forward to. the other, the other titles were speaking on january 6th. there are, there's a lot of interest in the bookstore on books that have been exploring
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just, you know, what that all means. and, you know, there's one that was just published by mark bowden, but we also have a really terrific book that i've been looking at called how civil wars start, something that i think we should all be nervous about. it's by barbara walter. of she's a leading political scientist, is and she kind of looks at the violent extremism around the world. and asks, you know, can that happen here and what does it mean, how do we stop it. same thing with anti-semitism and hate. jonathan greenblatt has a book coming out called "it could happen here."
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he covers similarrer the the story -- similar territory as well. so those are some books that i think immediately as i think of 2022 are going to be of interest. but actually, there's some additional ones later in the year -- and i'm sure, peter, you'll be speaking to these guy- [inaudible] haven't you had him on, i believe? >> host: yes. yes, in fact, i think we did a call-in with him during the national book festival or covered him. >> guest: yes. he's got a new book out that sounds fascinating, true story of -- [inaudible] gifters and rook -- crooks. and i don't know about you, but i've always liked candice millard a. she's got a book. wouldn't that be great if we could all go on a search on the nile? it'd be great to be able to
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travel. >> host: one more -- two more i wanted to mention. congressman jamie raskin's book on the list, unthinkable, about what's happened here in washington. and then the other one is carl bernstein's chasing history. now, mr. bernstein of watergate fame, of course. is he somebody that you would try to get in store or at least on a zoom author event? >> most definitely. we're trying right now. in fact, i think we're working on a date, and we're leaving it kind of in person until we can't have it many person. i'm also going to have carl on my bod cast -- podcast. and the book looks, i'm waiting for one to come to me soon, and it looks really, really great because he talks about, you know, the making of a journalist, the early days, you know? even sort of pre-watergate days as well, which i'm looking forward to. i mean, someone who thought one
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time in my life that maybe i would go that route, i've always been fascinated by what makes someone do that. you know, it's, i expect really good things from that book. and in terms of -- jamie raskin, he's somebody i didn't know very well, the horrible, tragic story of his son who seemed like a remarkable kid, and i found him to be extremely heroic through what happened over the last year. and i then have come to know people who he represents in his district, and they all admire him so greatly that i look forward to reading that one as well. >> host: the flagship store for books and books is in coral gables, florida. that's part of miami, isn't it, mitch? >> guest: yeah. a little miami geography. when you think of miami, it's
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really about 28 different cities, different little municipalities. miami-dade county is the county, and miami is just one of those little -- not little, it's the largest city. then you have miami beach, coral gables, hialeah, you have miami springs, you have doral, you have all these other municipalities that make up what we think of as miami. so it's very contiguous to one another. often many people don't know when they're going from one to the next. so we really think of ourselves as a south florida store. you know, we draw people from all over. and the good thing about our stores is that you can go to each one of them and feel like you're in a very different kind of store. we're all very different from one another as well. >> host: if you happen to make it to coral gables, go to the flagship store books and books and ask for mitch, he's often there. mitch kaplan, thank, as often,
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for your time. >> guest: peter, i look forward to seeing you in person very, very soon. >> host: before we move on, let's look at some of the best selling books according to books and books bookstores. topping the list is nicole hannah jones' the 1619 project. it's a look at american history, slavery and its legacy in present-day america. that's follow by the year of dangerous things, that's nicholas griffin's report on how the events of 1980 transformed the city of miami. after that is another book on miami, it's written by the late author and journalist joan didion and first published in 1987. then there's these precious days, a collection of essays by novelist ann patchett. and wrapping up our list of best selling nonfiction books is the dawn of everything, this is archaeologist david graeber's critical examination of the development of human society.
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and this is the " about books" podcast and program. it's a look at the latest publishing news and most recent nonfiction books. well, last weekend author and historian allen guelzo joined us on "in depth." he discussed his many books and took viewer phone calls. much of the conversation reinvolved around the civil war and his most recent book about robert e. lee. here's a portion of that program. >> guest: armies and are armies, and since the days of the babylonians and nebuchadnezzar, armies descend upon the areas they're invading like locusts. and they simply eat up, take up, steal. that is what army as do.
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when an army comes into your neighborhood, all law is set aside. and this is one of horrors of war. and i use the world horrors deliberately. i'm the son of an army officer, i'm the father of another army officer. and i want to tell you frankly, i have in my lifetime known many army officers. and the army officers who are most dedicateed, the most serious about their calling are also the ones who i can call the most sincere and dedicated pacifists because they're the ones who really understand what war costs. >> host: and that was historian allen guelzo who appeared on booktv's "in depth" program. and a reminder that "in depth" is live the first sunday of the month at noon. next month we'll be joined by georgetown university law professor cheryl cash inwho, in her latest book, argues that
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u.s. housing policies have created an uneven residential caste system. she recently discussed her newest book during a virtual program hosted by the harvard bookstore. here's a portion. >> well, everybody should care about ez den, caste because, actually, it's only working for a very small fraction for those who live in a metropolitan area. only about 7% of population can buy their way into the highest opportunity places, right? and those places exclude, they have exclusionary zoning. they often won't even have apartments, let alone duplexes or quad plexes, right? so they exclude non- [inaudible] and what a lot of people don't realize is they're actually subsidized by everybody who who's excolluded.
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they get -- excluded. they get golden infrastructure that's paid for through gas taxes, right? they often get more than their fair share of revenues raised through income taxes in terms of, you know, what the state decides to invest in for development, physical development, right? and so this whole system is destroying opportunity for almost everyone whether you live in a city or a non-rich suburb. there are a lot of struggling suburbs out there now. or a rural area. america's no longer a land of opportunity for you. >> host: and that's georgetown university law photographer cheryl cashin talking about her latest book. she will be live on booktv on sunday, february 6th, beginning at noon on "in depth." 9 and finally this week on "about books," here are some books being published this week.
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in righteous trouble merricks, a. sharpton -- troublemakers, al sharpton. nationally syndicated radio host glenn beck takes a create cl look at the world economic forum. his latest book is called "the great reset." and in "chasing history," reporter carl bernstein, best known for breaking the watergate story, reflects on his life and journalism career. also being published this week, political scientist barbara walter who examines the increase in civil wars around the world and why some countries remain more stable than others. her newest book is called "how civil wars start and how to stop them." and in the names of easy money, christopher leonard argues that over the last decade the federal reserve has made decisions that have led to economic uncertainty and greater inequality. and that's this week's publishing news and a look at the latest nonfiction books.
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thanks for joining us on "about books." "about books" is a politics that's available at c-span's
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