Mercer Street Books, a cultural institution in New York City for more than thirty years, is announcing that it will add publishing to its credits. “Writers browse used bookstores, and they like to talk,” explained founder and proprietor Wayne Conti. “I started to realize that many well published authors have really good works sitting in a drawer, or on a hard drive, and I started asking them more about them.”
The more Wayne saw, the more he started to think of becoming a publisher himself, all in the fine old tradition. He was well aware that many bookstores had become publishers: City Lights, Gotham Book Mart, certainly Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company in Paris, and even going back to 1705 with John and Elizabeth Nutt in London.
“Authors were standing right in front of me,” Wayne realized. “I asked them what they thought of the idea of Mercer Street Books Publishing.” Now he has several novels, a collection of plays and a collection of short stories, “All coming from established authors with enough solid, published work to fill a bookshelf.”
The first book will be MY ONLINESS AND OTHERS, a collection of plays by Robert Lyons, founding artistic director of the venerated New Ohio Theater, newly on Christopher Street. The next title will be PARTY OF PICTURES, a novel by Thomas McGonigle, recently awarded the Notre Dame Review Book Prize. PARTY OF PICTURES is a satiric look at the rituals of a Greenwich Village family. After that will be a short story collection (nine of them from The New Yorker) by Whiting Award winner Rick Rofihe. Wayne added, “I’m foreseeing another novel or two, plus at least one and maybe two books on Film Noir.”
“Basically, I wanted to publish books by writers who were a pleasure to read. There was also a tendency to favor subjects swirling around the creative process and downtown NYC post-World War Two,” he concluded.
Thus, New York City has Mercer Street Books Publishing, a new literary publisher in the old tradition: books for real readers.
Name: Wayne Conti
Phone: (212) 505-8615