Miami Book Fair creator to headline event

Photo courtesy Mitchell Kaplan
By News@TheU

Photo courtesy Mitchell Kaplan

Miami Book Fair creator to headline event

By News@TheU
Mitchell Kaplan, founder of the annual literary festival and Books & Books, will participate in a virtual discussion next Thursday as part of the Student Government’s “What Matters To U” speaker series.

The Student Government’s engaging “What Matters To U” speaker series returns on Thursday, April 22, at 5 p.m. to host a virtual discussion with distinguished entrepreneur, author, and producer Mitchell Kaplan.  

The event, which will be livestreamed to the University of Miami community, will be moderated by Susy Alvarez-Diaz, a senior lecturer in the Miami Herbert Business School, and Kylea Henseler, a junior studying public relations. The discussion will touch on topics such as Kaplan’s journey as an entrepreneur in South Florida and his success as a businessman and producer. 

Kaplan, a native of Miami Beach, opened the first Books & Books in 1982 in Coral Gables. What started as an independent bookstore now has grown to five locations, including one in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Kaplan served as president of the American Booksellers Association and has received the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation.

As co-founder of the Miami Book Fair in 1985, Kaplan was the chair of its board of directors and continues to guide its programming team. The fair takes place annually on the campus of Miami Dade College in the heart of downtown Miami. A model for others across the country, it presents close to 500 authors during a one-week period in November, along with a street festival—where bookstalls line the streets adjacent to the campus. The programs take place in English, Spanish, and Creole, reflecting the diversity of Miami.  

In addition, Kaplan’s career has transcended his role as an entrepreneur, venturing into endeavors as a successful publisher, podcaster, and movie producer.  

Alvarez-Diaz, who also serves as the faculty adviser for Women in Business and uStart Entrepreneurship club, notes the value in bringing speakers like Kaplan to campus for students to learn from their path to success. 

“What I am most looking forward to hearing from Mitchell is the different pivots and changes one finds in their careers, the opportunities that arise, and how to identify them for what they are,” Alvarez-Diaz said. “When people like Mitchell come to speak, it shows students that it’s really a journey through their career. I’d love for him to share that story and offer some encouragement in identifying opportunities as they present themselves.” 

Bringing in a speaker with deep ties to the South Florida community was intentional, shared Spencer Schwartz, chair of Student Government's "What Matters to U" planning group. 

“This year, we really wanted to broaden our portfolio of speakers from the Miami community. We did that with our speakers last semester, but I think Mitchell’s story as an entrepreneur and self-starter in Miami will really resonate with the audience and the impact they can make at a local level,” Schwartz added. 

The event is free and open to all members of the University of Miami community. Visit sg.miami.edu/wmtu for more information and for details on how to tune in.