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