A new chapter: Sleepy Cat Books opens on Telegraph Avenue

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Kavya Narendra-Babu/Staff

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Independent bookstore Sleepy Cat Books opened in Berkeley at 2509 Telegraph Ave. on Aug. 20.

Owner Jeff Koren originally opened Sleepy Cat Books a decade ago in Orinda but moved to Berkeley because a new owner bought the building, and tenants who held month-by-month leases had to leave. Upper Playground, a boutique that closed in February after nine years of business, was the previous occupant of the bookstore’s new location.

I looked for a new location and I love Berkeley and found the perfect space that has a really nice vintage feel,” Koren said in an email. “The bookshop has so much charm.”

Sleepy Cat Books sells both new and gently used books, both of which are displayed on the shelf-lined walls. Customers can order specific titles to the shop, and Koren said he will hold many literary events, such as author readings, in the future.

Koren, who studied literature in college, said he entered the bookstore business because he wanted to help revive the presence of independent bookstores. Despite some closures, Koren said independent bookstores are “coming back strong” because of their enriching role in local communities.

“They’re such a great place to browse & find what will become your favorite books that you didn’t even know you were looking for,” Koren said in an email. “People can always stop by to say hi to my two cats, Oliver and Lyla, that are always at the bookshop with me. They love meeting people.”

Several employees at other local bookstores said they were pleased to have another addition to their community. Owen Hill, who works at Moe’s Books down the street, said he “welcomes” the new bookstore and hopes to see Telegraph Avenue become a “book row” again, as it was in the 1980s.

Despite its short time on Telegraph Avenue, Sleepy Cat Books has already attracted local bibliophiles.

“I actually just looked up and saw it,” said customer Trevor Cralle. “I had no idea it was here. I’m a book nut — I go to every bookstore I find, constantly. … I have to put it on the rotation now.”

Sleepy Cat Books has also become a browsing place for employees at other businesses nearby, including Lex Tristan, the vendor manager at neighboring Indigo Vintage, who said she browses the store during her breaks.

Tristan said the bookstore has a wide variety and that Indigo Vintage recently bought books to display in its store from Sleepy Cat Books, including “Why We March.”

“I’ve looked in their windows, and I’m excited that there’s another bookstore on Telegraph Avenue,” said Reiko Redmond, manager at Revolution Books. “I’m looking forward to browsing the bookshop and meeting the cats.”

Contact Alexandra Stassinopoulos at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.