#8 Powell’s Books

powellsbooksAh, Powell’s. Wonderful Powell’s. For the Portland book lover, there is no better place. For many Portland visitors it is a must-see during their stay. Looking to impress your hippie friends with your mad mulching skills? Powell’s has it. Searching for the book that you told your date the night before that you just adored (but haven’t actually read)? Powells’ has it. Need to find “New Survey of the West-Indies: Being a Journal of Three Thousand and Three Hundred Miles Within the Main Land of America” by Thomas Gage? Powell’s has it!

Open 365 days a year, the original store was founded by Walter Powell in 1971. Inspired by his son Michael’s successful book store in Chicago, he founded the Burnside location which over the years grew, blob-style, into the surrounding buildings, eventually encompassing an entire block. Later, the Pearl district would grow, blob-style, around Powell’s.

You can wander the aisles forever, either just looking at titles, or asking the advice of the well-read employees. But is Powell’s just a giant book warehouse? No, no, no! They also have great book clubs, book signings, and other fun events. And if you are stuck out in a suburb, they have several other locations for your perusal. Also, in this economic recession, you can make a little bread (or store credit!) by selling your used books.

Powell’s is just tops, and it is truly one of the things that makes Portland such a fun place to live.

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5 Responses to “#8 Powell’s Books”


  1. 1 Jason March 8, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Best. Bookstore. Ever.

  2. 2 Ryan T. April 5, 2009 at 4:54 am

    I’ve been told its the largest new and used bookstore in North America. I haven’t been for a few years but I ought to go again.. I’d have to plan it well, though, because I’d be there at least a few hours. @_@

  3. 3 Forte101 March 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I do not understand what people see in this place. You can get cheaper books on Amazon and have them delivered to your doorstep for free.

    I was looking at a Powell’s promoted book for $25. They may ship it for free, I don’t remember as it was on Amazon for $12 and change.

    The store itself is ok but not great. The lighting is garish, I do not recall ever actually getting any service there and I couldn’t find anything there that I cared to purchase. What, precisely, is so interesting to people about Powells?

    I would like to know because I cannot figure this one out. Is it just because it is on the tourist list of places to see? Is it just because it is large?

    I do think that it is nice that they have events but is that enough to recommend it?

  4. 4 thelastmoviecritic September 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I see where Forte101 is coming from, but you don’t really go to Powell’s to buy new books, you go there to look at the rare books, the used copies, and admire the phenominal organizational skills of the staff.

    The whole allure of Powell’s is the fact that its a crossbreed between a library and a bookstore. Plus it’s massive, there are books, and everything is for sale.

    I spent a decent 3 hours sifting through a variety of book sections, purchased 1 book, and quite enjoyed myself. :p

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