have you met powell’s?

I’ve been kind of sort of doing this already (like here), but I want to start sharing info about great bookstores — both concrete and virtual — that I discover.  And who better to start with than the king of all independent bookstores?  (And yes, I’ve completely cribbed my title from How I Met Your Mother, but imitation is flattery and all that…)

So today, I would like to introduce you to:

Powell's Books, in Portland, OR (Photo by Cory Cronin)

Powell's Books, in Portland, OR (Photo by Cory Cronin)

(unless, of course, you’ve already met…in which case, please add your own thoughts in the comments)

Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in the country (the world?), is based in Portland, OR, a city with an incredible book culture.  This is a store where, if you’ve never been there before, you better grab a map as soon as you walk in the door if you hope to find anything.  There are rooms and rooms and rooms full of books, with shelves floor-to-ceiling, of every genre and topic you could every imagine. 

My husband and I visited the store during a trip up the West Coast in October.  It was a quick trip — San Diego to Seattle in a week — and except for the time spent sleeping, I think we spent more time in Powell’s than in any other one place.  Almost the moment we walked in, we split up — me to the fiction and YA rooms, him to the healthcare section — before meeting up again to check out memoirs and rare books.  I think we spent approximately 9 hours in Portland, and one-third of that time was in Powell’s.  We ended up buying so many books that we had to have my aunt (whose house we stayed at that night in Washington) mail them back to us because they wouldn’t fit in our luggage. 

But what I’ve just discovered is Powell’s amazing web site.  Which means those of us not living in the Pacific Northwest can take advantage of Powell’s huge selection of new and used books too.  Not only can you order books through their site, but you can sell and/or trade you used ones through them as well.  You can also create an account and wishlist, read interviews of authors, and find signed editions of books.  

So check them out — online at least, but definitely in person if you get the chance.  Just be sure to grab a map so you don’t get lost!

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~ by Molly on May 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “have you met powell’s?”

  1. I feel truly blessed to be living so close to Powell’s, but I have to admit, I’ve actually left empty-handed because I was overwhelmed by too many choices. But not often.

  2. I had the privilege of working at Powell’s (their Beaverton location) for almost two years…LOVED it. Best job I’ve ever held. Not only were my co-workers amazingly talented outside of the book business (artists, musicians, activists, authors, etc.), but each person brought a wealth of book knowledge that made my store a place I was proud to work in. Though I no longer live in Oregon, I still love to visit the site, order books from them when I can, and keep in touch with my former co-workers.

    One of the strongest things about Powell’s, in my opinion, was our union, ILWU Local 5. When ordering from powells.com, please consider going to http://www.ilwu.ca/05_Nov_PowellBooks.html first and allowing for 10% of your sale to go back to the union workers at Powell’s.

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