Pages Kensington
By Bob Keelaghan

A Lasting Independent Bookstore

For over two decades, Pages has endured as Calgary’s most prominent independent bookstore and remains as much a fixture in Kensington as its neighbour, the Plaza Theatre. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, Pages is dedicated to stocking the best, with a particular focus on Canadian authors. The shop’s ownership has changed several times since it was founded by Calgary author Peter Oliva in 1994, but it has stayed with that vision and maintained its devoted clientele.

“I feel like the store has a bit of a ghost to it and you have to honour it,” says current owner Ben Falconer about maintaining the Pages tradition since buying it in 2007. “My job as owner is to respect the guidelines that were set up here. When Peter started it, it was a lot different than it is now. There was no Amazon and digital downloads. What matters is that Pages continues to fulfill its mandate, which is quality over quantity.”

Serious readers will find their fix at Pages, now with three floors of books containing the best of nearly every genre. The main floor features new literature and fiction for adults, teens and children along with staff picks and vintage collectors’ editions. Upstairs, past a wall of photos featuring prominent writers, one delves into the thought-provoking worlds of history, science, art, science fiction and much more. Pages’ comfortable atmosphere makes it easy to get lost perusing the shelves, checking the back-cover summaries and reading sample chapters. Recently, Pages opened its basement as a second-hand and discount books room.

My job as owner of Pages is to respect the guidelines that were set up here. What matters is that Pages continues to fulfill its mandate, which is quality over quantity. - Ben Falconer, owner
Pages on Kensington, New books, used books, special orders, fiction, history, children’s literature, graphic novels
Pages’ second floor features an extensive selection of art books and graphic novels as well as history and science sections.

Readings and Writers

The store calls itself Calgary’s literary meeting place. This is no exaggeration, considering it has always been actively engaged in organizing and promoting readings and talks by authors. Such events are a regular occurrence among the shop’s second-floor bookshelves. Up-and-coming as well as established literary greats talk about their craft while sharing passages from their latest books.

Store manager Richard Young gives a short list of some of the best that Pages has presented, either within the store or at larger venues: astronaut/David Bowie tribute artist Chris Hadfield, underground comic artist Art Spiegelman, Canadian fiction legends Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, geneticist and environmentalist David Suzuki, short story author Alice Munro, journalist Sally Armstrong and primatologist Jane Goodall. Just to name a few.

Pages on Kensington,New books, used books, special orders, fiction, history, children’s literature, graphic novels
Manager Richard Young (right) looks for a customer’s special order while books on the desk await pick up.

Special Orders by Aficionados for Aficionados

Pages prides itself on being able to help customers with the human touch. If a customer can’t find a title in its stacks, the knowledgeable staff will look it up in the database. If it is not in stock, they can special order it. It comes down to the fact that staff members are passionate about reading. “I’m grateful for the staff I have, what they read and how intelligent they are about it,” says Ben. “They’ll bend over backwards for you. If they can get it, they’ll get it. If they can’t, they’ll try and find a way to help you find it. That’s what the store is all about.”

Pages on Kensington, New books, used books, special orders, fiction, history, children’s literature, graphic novels
For over 20 years, Pages has been located in historic Kensington, next to the Plaza Theatre.
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