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Miami, Part One

By Dedi Felman

Miami Book Fair International/Translation Market

Was it only last weekend that I dove into an outdoor pool surrounded by gorgeous palms at twilight? As I floated on my back, gazing up at the slowly darkening, famous Miami sky shot through with glints of goldenrod, copper, and violet, I luxuriated in a rare sense of oneness with the world. Today, I look out into the gray of a rainy autumn day in New York City and it's hard not to feel a sense of loss, not just for the almost perfect weather of my week-ago southern sojourn, but for the camaraderie and harmony of purpose fostered by the organizers of the Miami Translation Market, an atmosphere of joyousness, global friendship, and trust that marks only the most successful business gatherings of this kind.

To know Books & Books owner and Miami Book Fair International co-founder Mitchell Kaplan is to love him. It's a saying from one's grandmother, but then Mitch himself may be a throwback to that pre-Bowling Alone era. To participate in this year's inaugural Miami Book Fair International/Translation Market was to appreciate the enormous gifts that Mitch brings to the publishing community and to learn from his generosity and vision. Book publishing—and global publishing at that—is an exhausting and often alienating business. We blackberry colleagues whose faces and tones ring in registers that we've never seen or heard outside the electronic. Or maybe we finally arrive in parts unknown, worn out by cramped flying conditions and strange schedules that have taken a toll on our internal organs. Once we get where we are going, we have a few brief minutes to exchange business cards and particulars of favored books with strangers (15-30 minutes at London or Frankfurt, to be exact) before speeding to the next appointment. Yes, there are the long-time friends whom one annually toasts at Hessischer Hoff, and perhaps with whom one even steals away for a late-night salsa. But when was the last time that you met two, three, or even five new faces in publishing and walked away feeling close to each and every one?

As every good host knows, the key to a successful party lies not in the food and wine (though a few good bottles never hurt), but in a genuine interest in one's guests and an instinct for matching those individuals who might never otherwise meet. Hosts like Mitch Kaplan—and his colleague James Connolly—who combine an insatiable curiosity about others with a desire to bring each together with each, are a rarity in today's global hustle—and properly treasured for their skill and unparalleled warmth.

Miami was a wonderful exchange of useful information (see Chad Post's & Rick Simonson's terrific blogs for more details on the initiatives begun and to be continued.) Exciting plans for how to extend WWB/Reading the World Book Clubs through íinternational nightsë; and connecting more agents and foreign authors to younger editors were two of the ideas that I'm most fired up about (more posts about the latter TK). But, finally, Miami was more than that. It was a chance for us to kick off our shoes, hang out at the pool hall, take a leisurely breakfast with brilliant bookselling colleagues, meet Jonny Temple's truly global authors, flop down on the couches in one unbelievable lucky PENster's executive suite, and do what publishers do best—form the personal connections and networks that drive this business of inspiration and hope.

Thank you, Mitch and James. May the party long continue.

Dedi Felman

Published Nov 19, 2007   Copyright 2007 Dedi Felman

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