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Elk River Books co-owners Marc Beaudin and Andrea Peacock will celebrate the Livingston used book store’s fifth anniversary on Wednesday much as they celebrated the grand opening: with a reading by Rick Bass.

But much has changed in those five years.

Poet Beaudin and journalist Peacock (who is married to Beaudin’s second cousin) envisioned owning a used book store where they could each work three days a week, with four days off. That hasn’t happened.

“You have to work just and hard and make just as little,” Peacock said in an interview at the store last week, comparing the store to her newspaper career. Like the fast-paced world of journalism, running a book store means every day is different.

Peacock is the author of “Wasting Libby: The True Story of How the WR Grace Corporation Left a Montana Town to Die” and co-author with husband, Doug, of “The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears.” She is currently working on a memoir. Beaudin, Peacock said, has been better at keeping up with his poetry since the store opened, although his current project is directing a play with the Caldera Theater Company.

“I’ve been sticking to my 10-year-a-book timeline,” he quipped.

The pair decided to open the store on a whim, although idea to inception took about a year.

“It came from me not wanting to live in a town without a used book store, and not wanting to live in a town other than Livingston,” said Beaudin, who came to town to help Peacock build a house. “As a poor writer, I’m always looking for used books.”

“Not a poor writer, but a poor writer,” Peacock added.

“A poverty stricken writer,” Beaudin said.

Elk River moved from their first tiny space in 2014, when Peacock and Beaudin teamed with Beaudin’s wife, Lisa, on a larger storefront to house the bookstore and the Wheatgrass Saloon, which serves juices and smoothies.

The shop is envisioned as a local literary gathering place, not private nor strictly commercial. Downstairs, past benches for reading or enjoying a beverage near the window, is Wheatgrass Saloon, an area with literary gifts, new books by local authors and on regional topics and, in the back room, used non-fiction. A collection of rare and collectible books points to Peacock and Beaudin’s growing interest in the antiquarian and contrarian book trade.

“Every book has a story,” Beaudin said. “Obviously the story that the book tells, but the story of the book – who owned it and how it transferred from here to here to here.”

A warm inscription in an old Jim Harrison book, for example, made them certain the author and original recipient of the book were connected. Beaudin and Peacock tracked down the woman, then bartered the return of the book.

“It was definitely valuable, but the consigner was willing to send it back,” Beaudin said.

Upstairs, you’ll find a nook with a suitably old typewriter and an open window frame facing the reading space at the front of the building. A table and chairs and pair of couches invite use of the space. Here is Elk River’s collection of used fiction, although one upper shelf is stocked with new paperbacks – works a bookstore should always have on hand: “Animal Farm” and “1984,” “The Stranger,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Gatsby,” “Silent Spring.” There’s also some Joyce, which is fitting in light of Beaudin’s own collection of the author’s work.

“I’m always reading ‘Ulysses,’” Beaudin said, although he is currently reading Samuel Western’s novel “Canyons.” Beaudin has been consumed by Peter Robinson’s murder mysteries.

Elk River Books’ current space was previously Russell Chatham’s gallery, and home to Clark City Press, a historical literary tidbit Beaudin recounts before talking about the creation of Elk River Books Press. His book, “Vagabond Song,” was the house’s first. An anthology, “Unearthing Paradise: Montana Writers in Defense of Greater Yellowstone,” is in the works.

“I see it as really just focusing on specific projects that come up locally,” Beaudin said.

In five years, Elk River has expanded in more than area. Beaudin and Peacock are also behind the nonprofit arm of the store, Elk River Arts and Lectures, which brings in authors for community events and workshops at Park High School. Past authors, according to a press release on the anniversary event, have included Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest Williams, Jim Harrison, Doug Peacock, Carl Hiaasen, Pam Houston and Henry Real Bird.

For the anniversary, Beaudin and Peacock want to make sure the party is in recognition of Livingston’s readers and writers.

“I love that it’s a community celebration, not ‘Hey, we’ve had a business for five years. Isn’t that great?’” Beaudin said. “It’s for all of the book lovers, all of the writers.”

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Rachel Hergett can be reached at or at 406-582-2603. Hergett is on Twitter at @hergett.