[Alumni Story] Marie DIÉVAL and Émilien ALLIER, founder of “Les Paresseux” bookshop: a couple on the same page

How many of us say: “I just don’t have the time” when asked if we’ve opened a book recently? “Les Paresseux” bookshop aims to change all that with an invitation to slow down, switch off and introduce as many people as possible to the pleasure of immersing themselves in a good novel, short story or comic strip. It is run by Marie DIÉVAL and Émilien ALLIER (who both graduated the Grande École Program in 2014), a couple who have turned their passion and determination into the guiding principles of a wonderful project…

What were your respective careers before opening your bookshop?
Émilien and I both loved books and were already employed in related fields: I worked for six years as a product manager for a big name in stationery, while my husband was an analyst for the Hachette group. As with so many people, Covid and a year of working from home made us want to make some changes in our lives, get in tune with our values, find a sense of meaning and have some human contact. Opening an independent bookshop seemed the obvious way forward, but first, we took time to train, gain experience and carry out market research. In March 2023, we opened the doors of “Les Paresseux” bookshop in Carquefou, near Nantes.

Les Paresseux
Marie DIEVAL and Emilien ALLIER in front of “Les Paresseux” bookshop

What sets “Les Paresseux” apart from other bookshops?
We try to appeal across a broad range and sell novels, comic books, mangas, children’s books, pretty stationery and games. Our aim is to bring the pleasure of reading to as many people as possible, so there’s something for everyone on our shelves. By choosing the name Les Paresseux (which means The Sloths), we wanted to encourage customers of all ages not to sit idly by, but to take the time to open a book, discover a new world, travel without leaving their living room, be open to the world and disconnect from their screens. We also want to remind everyone of the vital role played by local businesses.

What do you mean by that?
The pandemic was a reminder of the importance of human contact and of local shops in the face of the often dehumanising internet. Since opening, we’ve managed to forge strong links with our customers. They love the almost sensory experience of paper, they’re looking for the advice and expertise that we are able to offer, and they like to find something unexpected as they browse the shelves. More and more of them are also realising that the act of consuming is a political one: buying in a bookshop is an act of good citizenship, a way of standing up for the French cultural exception and keeping our town centres vibrant.

You opened your doors in March 2023. How do you see the future?
The first few months have gone according to plan, so it’s up to us to keep the project riding high! The first real test will be the Christmas period; until then, we’re going to continue to explore all the aspects of running a business, building on what we offer (events, meetings, book clubs, etc.) and focusing on the way our skills complement one another. I look after communications and stationery, while Émilien is more concerned with numbers. Also, we don’t read the same books, which means an even greater range of recommendations! We’re going to continue to grow our venture, page by page, with a spirit of inquiry and respect and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank IÉSEG. Above and beyond the purely academic aspect, it has given us the courage to run our own business!

This article was written by Luna Créations for IÉSEG Network’s magazine, IÉS #17.