Find us at 1302 4 St. SW in Calgary, Alberta

A bookstore for avid readers and the unusually bookish, for browsers and meanderers, for independent minds and spirits.  

Come and browse our lovely bookstore in Calgary’s revitalized Beltline District. You just might find the book you’re looking for, and 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, Kat 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 well-known and celebrated 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.


Don’t see your question here? Feel free to write to [email protected] or call 403 265 1033.

Are you an indie bookstore?

Yes! We have been independently owned and operated in Calgary, Alberta since 2010.

Are you a used bookstore?

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!

Where can I park?

Street parking is free after 6pm. Customer parking is also available behind the store (accessible via 13th Ave). 

Can I special order books not showing in your online store?

Yes! Our online store displays books either already in store or 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 the book you want can be brought in at no extra cost.

Are you dog friendly?

We are the dog friendliest. And cat friendly. Bird friendly. Snake friendly. If your pet fits in the door, it’s welcome inside.

Do you accept books on consignment?

We are happy to support self-published local authors and stock your books on our shelves. Please email [email protected] to share your book with us and ask about our consignment terms and contract.

Do you have a customer loyalty program?

Yep! Customers can earn points on every dollar spent to accumulate store credit. Online accounts collect points automatically, and no membership card is needed.

Do you offer school or community partnership discounts on bulk book orders?

We do! Please email [email protected] with your inquiry.

Do you ever host pop-up shops?

Yes! We love to collaborate with and provide space for local makers. Write to [email protected] if you’d like to do a pop-up shop inside Shelf Life Books.


We at Shelf Life Books acknowledge that we are on the lands of the Treaty 7 People:
The Blackfoot from Siksika, Kainai and Piikani;
The Dene-Sarcee from Tsuut’ina;
And the Stoney-Nakoda from Morley, the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney First Nations.
We also walk in the footsteps of the Metis People from Region 3, Metis Nation of Alberta.