Miami Book Fair An Unlikely Success Story

In 1984, Eduardo Padron, President of Miami Dade College and Mitchell Kaplan, owner of an independent bookstore sought to put Miami on the literary map by launching a book fair there. The idea seemed lofty, and the section of town where it was to be held was best described as unsavory. But the pair remained undaunted, and set out to put on a world class fair. The plan included having at least one well-known author to anchor the event. In its inaugural year, they landed James Baldwin, and the event drew 25,000 people. Subsequent years have boasted names such as Maya Angelou, Joseph Heller and Hunter S. Thompson and the list goes on. Yet, they also wanted to keep the event accessible to the general public. So, even with top-notch writers as part of the mix, the top ticket price is still just $15. Kaplan noting that they wanted to create the “largest tent possible, so that all of Miami could fit under it.” They have accomplished that, as well as helping with a rebirth of the arts in Miami. Following in the footsteps of the Book Fair were the Miami City Ballet, The New World Symphony, and Art Basel – one of the premiere arts events in the country.

This year’s Miami Book Fair International will boast 500 authors and run for an entire week. Well done, gentlemen!

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