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Independent bookstore in Verdun hopes to fill void for anglo readers

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Pulp Books & Café is the new kid on the block after opening its doors just two months ago on Wellington Street in Verdun.

Co-owners Alex Nirenhausen and Daphnée Anctil say the community lacks an English bookstore.

"It's been great. Everyone has been saying this was needed on Wellington," said Nirenhausen.

The entrepreneurs say they're happy to fill the void in their neighbourhood, regardless of the language their shoppers speak.

"We service any person who wants to read in English and that includes people who are francophone," said Anctil, who is francophone.

"Anyone can enjoy literature in English the same way anyone who speaks French can enjoy books in French so we're really trying to service as large of a population as we can."

They know language is always a hot topic in Quebec.

"The best response that we give them is usually, you know, the service is in French if you want it in French and the coffee's bilingual and that always gets a little laugh out of them," said Anctil.

Co-owners Alex Nirenhausen and Daphnée Anctil at their Pulp Books & Café in Verdun. (Lauren Fernandez/CTV News)

Not afraid to poke fun at the language dynamics or to compete with the popularity and convenience of Amazon, Alex says, "Amazon can't read books; they can recommend all the books they want, but nobody at Amazon is actually reading those books when they're coming to you."

It's that personal touch customers will experience the moment they enter Pulp Bookstore. "We tend to focus way more on community, on personal interactions with our customers," Anctil added.

"Amazon can't give you that tactile experience. You're not going to touch the books, you're not going to smell the books."

The co-owners say that tactile experience surprisingly captures a younger generation.

"I think a lot of young people are reading a lot more than we were. The advent of TikTok has had a huge impact on the market. There's been a lot more teenagers walking in here," Anctil said.

The duo said that people are putting down their devices and opting for real-life interactions outside of work or home, and that's part of the charm a community bookstore has to offer.

"Places where people can share ideas, and talk to people they wouldn't normally interact or cross paths with. A third place is a shared space," Nirenhausen says. 

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