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Journey to the West: Calgary

Journey to the West: Calgary

Coach House Books, along with other Toronto publishers, traveled out West to get to know our fellow Canadians a little better.

By Coach House Date: April 25, 2018

Calgary is a city full of great people and really talented artists who take their work seriously. The arts community there is spectacular and it’s a shame that we don’t hear about it more often – or maybe that’s just my problem. If so, I’m sorry, Calgary! I will pay more attention. Shelf Life Books in Calgary really speaks to the vibrant local arts community. With their heavily curated collection of books and their welcoming environment, Shelf Life invites the quiet, curious, and eccentric to browse their shelves. Maybe that’s why Coach House and Shelf Life are BFFs! Just look at the display that was waiting for me when I entered the store.

That’s a beautiful display right there. I didn’t even give them enough time to special-order these books before my visit. They were all from stock they had. How wonderful is that?! Note the pair of Suzette Mayr novels. She’s essentially a rock star in Calgary. But Shelf Life's love doesn’t stop at everyone's favourite squirrel-infested publishing house, oh no. They have a whole shelf dedicated to zines: Zines from both local creators and creators abroad. I was extremely excited to see what they had in their collection.

Seeing something like this brings joy to my heart. By giving creators a space to sell their product, Shelf Life is actively encouraging the local creative scene. My hope is that these types of initiatives grow the future generation of writers and publishers so that our industry can be nice and strong going forward.

A discussion of Shelf Life Books wouldn’t be complete without a peek at their Instagram. When it comes to bookstore Instagrams, no other account is better than Shelf Life. It has such a dynamic and fun quality that it’s impossible not to smile as you scroll through the images. The account is genuine and it’s clear that the employees are having fun there. Sean is the Shelf Life unofficial / official Instagram mascot and his posts are pure fire emoji and 100 emoji. I was honestly a little star struck meeting him, but he was great and very welcoming.

Shelf Life has found a great way of blending book-loving, art, and marketing together into one solid social media account. It’s important in today’s age to provide customers and followers with something more than just a sales pitch. Giving them personality and flavour is paramount in today's digital world, and Shelf Life has that in spades. I couldn’t have left the store without getting Sean and Coach House together in one epic Instagrammable picture. Behold the best collaboration in the world:

And here’s a little gif of our photoshoot, too. It goes from #fierce to #fun:

Music Note: The vibe in the store was very chill and the music was no different. Chastity Belt’s "Black Sail" played to ease customers into book-buying. I'd never heard of them, but I’m glad for the introduction. Great band!