A bookstore for avid readers and the unusually bookish, for browsers and meanderers, for independent minds and spirits.
Come and browse in our lovely bookstore in Calgary’s revitalized Beltline District. You just might find the book you’re looking for, but you’ll also find books that you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Shelf Life Books began in 2010 as the brainchild of two old friends, William Lawrence and JoAnn McCaig, who shared a love of books and reading. Will, a history buff and experienced retailer, and JoAnn, a writer and former English professor, agreed that Calgary needed an independent bookstore downtown and worked hard to fill that need.
Shelf Life Books inhabits the Fourth Street building that many Calgarians fondly remember as the home of the gay bar Parkside Continental, which operated from 1973 to 1986. Other Calgarians may recognize the building as the one that sits behind Evelyn Grant’s familiar sculpture Counting Crows, which was installed in 2001. The building’s landmark status evolved further when, in 2019, Kyle and Derek Simmers painted a mural on the back wall as part of Calgary’s annual BUMP (Beltline Urban Murals Project) Festival in 2019.
In October 2020, Shelf Life Books celebrated its tenth anniversary. Shelf Life Books has been warmly welcomed by the Calgary reading and writing community since first opening its doors. Many important writers have appeared at our store, including Will Ferguson, Rudy Wiebe, the Minimalists, Jap Blonk, Vivek Shraya, bill bissett, Malcolm Mooney, Chris Turner, Sharon Butala, Sheri-D Wilson, and chef Matty Matheson. Shelf Life Books also prides itself on its community engagement and events programming, and many of Calgary’s local writers read and browse here on the regular.
Closed Dec. 25 & Jan. 1
Yes! We have been independently owned and operated in Calgary, Alberta since 2010.
We are not. We carry only new books but have a small section of markdowns and bargain-price titles. We do not buy or accept used books – try our friends at The Next Page or Pages On Kensington!
Street parking is free after 6pm. Customer parking is also available behind the store (accessible via 13th Ave).
Yes! Our online store displays books either already in store on the way back in but not every book available to us. We order from a large number of publishers and distributors, so give us a call or send us an email to see if any book can be brought in at no extra cost.
We are the dog friendliest. And cat friendly. Bird friendly. Snake friendly. If your pet fits in the door, it's welcome inside.
We are happy to support self-published local authors and stock your books on our shelves. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your book with us and ask about our consignment terms and contract.
Yep! Customers can earn points on every dollar spent to accumulate store credit. Online accounts collect points automatically, and no membership card is needed.
We at Shelf Life Books acknowledge that we are on the lands of the Treaty 7 People:
We also walk in the footsteps of the Metis People from Region 3, Metis Nation of Alberta.