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Beatnik Books a novel choice for Roseville bibliophiles

Old Town shop has used books, funky décor and open mic nights
By: Eileen Wilson Press Tribune Correspondent
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Those who haven’t frequented Old Town Roseville lately are missing out — there’s a new literary haunt for books lovers to prowl. Beatnik Books opened in March — a “soft opening” according to owner, Chelsea Johnson. “We had a soft opening because, at the time, we didn’t have that many books,” she said. While Johnson continues to build her used-book inventory by browsing estate sales, garage sales and thrift shops, donors are continually dropping off great reads, as well. Johnson, who runs the store part time with the help of an eclectic variety of neighborhood volunteers, tries to keep the store open “more or less” regular hours. Armed with a degree in English literature, and one in gender studies, the classics and gender studies sections are among Johnson’s favorite areas. But Johnson loves books of all sorts and stripes. “I’ve been an avid reader and aspiring writer all my life,” Johnson said. “I’ve written nine novels, as well.” Novelists and poets seem right at home in the royal-blue shop that features chandeliers, end tables with lamp shades, and a variety of funky and fabulous Marrakesh-meets-Mumbai décor. On a recent open mic night, novelists as well as musicians arrived to regale bibliophiles with their craft. Brandon Clark, a writer who shared original poems and a piece from a novel he is writing, enjoys the atmosphere at Beatnik, and drops by whenever he is in the area. “I did a lot of readings when I lived in Bakersfield, but this is the first one I’ve done in this area,” Clark said. “It would be nice if writers could get together here on a regular basis. I absolutely love used book stores. I find things here that I can’t find anywhere else.” Though visitors aren’t all goatees, glasses and poetry types, there is a strong poetry section with works from Beat writers. “I focus on classics because that’s my passion, but we do have a lot of art and poetry books, as well as popular newer books,” Johnson said. Johnson is excited by the support of local businesses and residents. “I’ve had a lot of people come in who want to volunteer,” she said. “We have this very local community, and my goal is to have this be a utilized space. ... If the store is breaking even, that’s the ultimate financial goal.” Music lovers seem like natural customers for the store, which is located across from two neighborhood pubs and down the street from another. “We get an evening crowd. Downtown Rose-ville has a vibe that starts at 10 p.m., so we get people before they head over to the pubs. We get a lot of exposure,” Johnson said. Mark Van Buskirk and Michael Bryant, who are Beatnik regulars, were on hand to play guitar and share songs. While the duo played a variety of impromptu music, they were moved to perform “Love is a Losing Game,” by Amy Winehouse — a tribute to the singer’s career, which was recently cut short. Beatnik will offer a special evening of live music and art during the 3rd Saturday Artwalk on Aug. 20. Meanwhile, tiny white lights dangle from the ceiling, and a cribbage board awaits its next round of players. Beatnik has its very own, unique style, and locals love it.