Of the nine Spanish-language bookstores in Miami-Dade County, a third are a few miles of one another on Southwest Eighth Street.
Libreria Impacto is in the 7100 block, Libreria San Pablo & St. Paul is in the 5800 block and Libreria Cristiana Nissi is in the 2000 block.
Belia Barrera, a Miami resident, said it makes sense for Spanish-language bookstores to be on Eighth Street because it’s a commercial street, and it’s an important street for Latinos.
She said she’s always happy to see a Spanish bookstore near her.
“There’s Barnes & Nobles, sure,” she said. “But, there is no variety there. At least, not for Spanish-speaker readers.”
She said the Barnes & Noble’s Spanish selection seems limited to the bestseller list.
“There’s a row of bookshelves for Spanish books, and so every genre is within those bookshelves,” Barrera said. “Which means there’s only so many books in each genre, so if I want a variety of new age books I can only find five at the most.”
Libreria Impacto, near the Miami Airport, offers around 45,000 titles, and a range of genres, including religion, science, metaphysics and health. Some of its inventory is available online to browse.
Owner Mirta Hernández said the store sells books to private and public schools nationwide. She said it’s important to know the material and give customers the personal touches they might not find in a big chain store.
“For me, it’s a pride that someone comes here, sits in one of the 10 chairs available, and leaves with a memory,” Hernández said.
Similarly, Minister Henry Ramirez, the owner of Libreria Cristiana Nissi, said if a person feels he or she is being helped by someone with a genuine interest – not because they’re merely selling something—that’s true customer service.
The bookstore has been around for ten years. He said he has weathered the economic downturn and hopes to expand to more locations.
He said there’s nothing like going to a bookstore and the feeling one gets being inside one. He has had customers tell him they love going into the store because they feel the presence of God.
“You won’t feel that in a computer,” Ramirez said.
In Libreria San Pablo & St. Paul, the administrator, Arturo Guzman, said the store competes with Amazon in terms of prices, even though they sell their books on the site. In the store, the prices are cheaper than on Amazon.
Guzman said their bestsellers are Latin-American products. They do have English books, but the majority of their titles are in Spanish.
Their prices and the fact they offer a great variety of books that promote human and Christian values are what makes their store successful, he said.
For some like Hernández, keeping the bookstore open is part of her legacy.
For Ramirez, it’s giving back to the community.
“You seed to reproduce when you buy here. You’re putting a seed here, and you’re contributing to continue the word of God,” he said. “Meanwhile, when you buy in a big chain store, your money stops there. Your seed stops there.”