Rain gently pattered on the back window of Mellow Pages library and reading room as the L train roared beneath Bogart Street during a Secret Reading on a Tuesday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. Spectators nestled on couches, the floor and anywhere they could fit inside the intimate space and listened intently to author Cameron Pierce, of Portland’s Lazy Fascist Press, read from his book Die You Doughnut Bastards.
There are now more books on the walls, more makeshift shelves, more events planned and more bodies reading books on the couches on any given day. In fact, Tonight, Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. Mellow Pages will host a reading by Nathaniel Kressen and Bushwick Daily’s own Cat Agonis, where she will read from her new novel Chicken on the Hudson. This is life now for Jacob Perkins and Matt Nelson, the creators of the independent library, which opened only one month ago.
“The response was more positive than we expected,” Perkins says of the library’s opening on Thursday, February 21.
“We hit a nerve,” adds Nelson.
About 60 people swung by Mellow Pages on opening day to browse the shelves and drink a beer. Since then, the library has added 50 new members who each donated the required 10 books membership “fee” to join. Total, the guys have added about 600 books, and counting, through donations from people, with one patron donating 180 books. In total, Mellow Pages’s is reaching 1,200 pieces, including zines.
“We’ve also contacted many publishers and have had lots of packages show up. And authors have personally donated their [published] books,” Perkins said.
Nelson, who attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Boston earlier this month, said the trip was worth it, as he was able to score several books and 30 chap books from various publishers including, Mud Luscious Press in Colorado, Birds LLC, and Belladonna Press.
The guys said they remain true to their mission of having a library/reading room focusing on small press books. However, there have been a few changes. The opening hours will now be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and they’re considering eliminating the alternative $20 membership fee and simply having a 10-book donation fee. The guys have also refined their ideas for hosting events.
“Instead of just having an ‘anything goes/no structure’ thing, we’ve been thinking of specific events and directly asking people to get involved,” Nelson said.
As we mentioned, tonight, Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. Mellow Pages will host a reading by Nathaniel Kressen and Bushwick Daily’s own Cat Agonis, where she will read from her new novel Chicken on the Hudson.
Mellow Pages is also hosting the Seasonal Asshole Disorder reading series on Saturday, March 30. The alt-lit reading series will feature readings by Ed Halliday, Zachery Wood, Aly Cat and Joe Sutton. On April 4 Runaway Parade will be hosting a release party at the library.
Author Eric Nelson will read from his new book, The Walt Whitman House, in the upcoming weeks, although no date has been set.
Mellow Pages is also partnering with Art Helix, a gallery in the same studios, to host the release party of Mellow Pages zine by the same name. The guys have already released a call for submissions for art and 50-word prose. They’re also working on a project to host intimate plays and operas in the future.
Perhaps one thing that has changed is that Mellow Pages and its creators have become local celebrities of the sort. Since Bushwick Daily’s article, Time Out, The L Magazine, and even News 12 have followed suit and written stories on the one of a kind library. Nelson was even recognized during the AWP conference.
“Nothing’s really changed. We re-shelved the wall. It’s by publisher now. Oh, and we got a new dog in the building,” Perkins said as a dog barked in the hall.