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By Karen Newell young
Where art, literature and coffee meet
The Open Book is writing its own success story
It’s on an obscure street in the Brunswick Basin, in a small unassuming building attached to Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters.

It may be small, but The Open Book’s influence in Nevada County is big and growing among authors, musicians, artists and book lovers. Its book readings and theater and musical events have involved prominent leaders in local literature, theater, music and the arts in general.

“Not everyone knows we’re here,” co-owner Will Dane acknowledged. “It’s not a place you come across unless you know where it is.”

But more people are starting to know where it is.

“What we’re trying to do is offer a creative space for creative people,” said Dane, who graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“A passion we share is promoting marginalized artists,” she continued. “We’re not making any money, but that’s not why we’re here.”

The store features rotating artists in its gallery section and has launched a small press that features emerging writers.

Tomes Bookstore, owned for 18 years by Eric Tomes, was founded in Nevada City and then moved in 1997 to Maltman Drive in the Brunswick Basin in Grass Valley. Under new ownership in 2015 by Nory Fussell, the store’s name was changed to The Open Book, with a new emphasis on events at night and community involvement.

Dane, along with Angela Sells, purchased the business in February 2016.

Under Tomes’ management, the bookstore changed its focus to become a warm and friendly spot for the many groups who met there for coffee at Sierra Coffee Roasters. Nonprofits from Center for Nonprofit Leadership to Music In the Mountains held unofficial meetings at the store - and still do.

Dane was a regular at both Tomes Bookstore and The Open Book while Fussell owned it.

“I had been coming as a customer since 2009,” Dane said. “I always loved the combination of book store and coffee shop and the unique collection of books. I sort of eased into ownership by volunteering. Beyond my personal enjoyment there, I always felt it was is a great community resource. “

Sells used to work as a graphic designer but is now a writer whose first book will be published this year. “Sabina Spielrein: The Woman and the Myth” is based on her dissertation from Pacifica Graduate Institute in women’s narrative and women’s writing. It’s being published by SUNY Press. She also teaches at Sierra College and Meridian University.

The events at the store are edgy and unique. Coming up on May 5, Open Book will feature an overnight reading of “The Odyssey” by Homer that will run from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Sells and Dane have launched a reader program called Yuba Lit that highlights authors from throughout California. The series continues at 7 p.m. May 12 with fiction writers Caille Millner, author of “The Golden Road;” Staajabu and Dr. V.S. Chochezi, authors of activist poetry; and Judie Rae, local poet and novelist, who has published non-fiction essays and young adult novels.

For more information on Yuba Lit visit yubalit.org.

A big event for the owners happened in March when they hosted HERstory, which featured a lineup of artists and performers that included Sands Hall, Alicia Frost, Judie Rae, Hannah Jane Kile, Sharon Winegar, Cynthia Soszka and Isadora Goldschneider. The evening was so successful that Dane and Sells plan to make HERstory a regular event. They created a zine called HERstory for the event and anticipate more zines in the future.

The owners have also introduced an independent press that features local writers and artists. Its launch was in November and publication is in process.

As The Open Book continues to feature local artists, writers and musicians, the community will no longer need to wonder what the little building next to Sierra Coffee Roasters is all about.

For more information, visit theopenbookgv.com.
Live music and other events take center stage at The Open Book at 671 Maltman Drive in Grass Valley.