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At a time when bookshops are closing faster than you can say “e-reader”, a new Vancouver store is aiming to become an irresistible page-turner for local literary types.

At The Paper Hound  – a cosy, tome-lined emporium tucked into a renovated downtown heritage building  – owners Kim Koch and Rodney Clarke are determined to show that physical books still have a role.

“We're trying to provide an eccentric space for Vancouverites where they can come and enjoy the search and serendipity of finding a book,” said Koch, whose West Pender Street store is a wood-floored, exposed-brick haven of carefully curated, mostly second-hand tomes divided into such esoteric categories as "Indomitable Orphans" and "Rants and Incendiary Tracts".

“The look, feel and touch of books is just as important to us – we’re really trying to show people how they can live beautifully with books,” she added, pointing to a noir-ish crime section where the racy titles have equally spicy cover art.

The business partners met while working at nearby MacLeod's  – Vancouver's long-established used bookstore favourite – and saw a niche for bookworms who view physical volumes as must-have items. It's an approach that echoes the renaissance of vinyl records among hip young aesthetes.

Taking their name from a handsome vintage bookplate Koch discovered a few years ago – alternative monikers including The Odd Volume and The Magpie’s Bagpipe were also considered – the pair aims to create a booklovers’ hub with a lively roster of readings and events. And they'll likely add newly published titles to the floor-to-ceiling shelves as business develops.

For now, though, the Hound is embracing the past, a time when everyone seemed to have a dog-eared novel to hand. Which explains the "treasures" displayed at the back of the shop.

Found in the pages of many of their books, Koch and Clarke have collected bygone bookmarks and other yellowing items used for the same purpose, from receipts to menus and shopping lists. “It’s like a relationship with the book’s previous owners,” said Clarke as he unfolded a found children's sketch.

Koch agreed, and said she can’t imagine a time when digital devices will totally replace the physical. "The idea that we're living at the end of books is boring. From poetry to children’s literature and beyond, there will always be books that have to be read as books.”

John Lee is the Vancouver Localite for BBC Travel

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