Bound to succeed 

Mountain Fold Books brings indie books, community to rising neighborhood

click to enlarge Marina Eckler serves indie aficionados. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Marina Eckler serves indie aficionados.

Give! campaign first-timer Mountain Fold Books has been supported by the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, a Give! partner, since its formation.

Back in 2013, Marina Eckler, a visual arts instructor at UCCS, and Jonathan Fey, a UCCS English graduate, teamed up to apply for PPCF's $10,000 Ingenuity Challenge grant. They won and in February, a scant three months later, Mountain Fold Books opened in its current location at 121 E. Costilla St., sometimes referred to as the New South End of downtown.

"Our goal is to do what independent bookstores have always been great at doing: promoting and fostering a local literary community." says Eckler, now Mountain Fold's executive director. She's certainly happy about the support Mountain Fold has found — as of press time, they'd received more individual donations than any other Give! participant this year.

And the location may have something to do with it. Eckler wanted the spot to be within walking distance of the downtown Gallery of Contemporary Art. Between popular outposts like Shuga's and the Blue Dot Place apartments under construction, Mountain Fold is part of a rising tide of redevelopment. In addition to reading a variety of books, checking e-mail or sipping brews roasted by locals Switchback or Denver's Sweet Bloom, creative types will find a nexus for collaboration and inspiration in Mountain Fold.

It's also an event space and has hosted book releases and readings from CC professor and poet Idris Goodwin, poets Chris Martin and Mary Austin Speaker, and many more. It's also held poetry nights and readings of significant speeches and texts, such as a July 3 reading of Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?"

"[UCCS Senior Instructor] Mia Alvarado, who curates our reading series, does a great job of booking truly eclectic literary events," says Eckler, "first by inviting writers from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities to read their work, and also by hosting events involving a wide range of literary cultures such as performed poetry, ASL poetry, and live through-reads."

And what's a bookstore without great books? According to store manager Han Sayles, Mountain Fold is committed to promoting books from smaller, more niche publishers, like LA-based Les Figues, Brooklyn's Ugly Duckling Presse, and Oakland's Timeless, Infinite Light. Much of Mountain Fold's stock comes from one-hundred-copy printing runs or smaller.

"A lot of the stuff that we have is one-of-a-kind, sometimes self-published works," says Sayles. "We like to think all the books we carry are art objects. They're all very meticulously designed and crafted." Sayles mentions Structures, a book that is designed to be taken apart and reassembled into 3D sculptures. They also sell a variety of zines from around the community.

"I'm a firm believer in the power of independently produced books," says Eckler. "They have a lot in common with independent movies — both involve a creative relationship between aesthetics and narrative structures. But I think art books are even more democratic because anyone with access to a copier can get their work out to a wide audience."

Mountain Fold hopes to earn $20,000 through Give! this year to help expand its inventory and to add evening hours. Except during events, it's currently open until 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. If Mountain Fold can meet its goal, it will receive a $5,000 matching grant from the Dusty & Kathy Loo Fund of PPCF.

The 2015 Give! Campaign features 88 area nonprofits. To learn more, volunteer or donate, visit indygive.com before midnight on Dec. 31.


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