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Get Your Read and Coffee on at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon

Get Your Read and Coffee on at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon


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Travel to a city of coffee, tea, and books within Portland

Travelers to the Versailles of bookstores, Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Ore., might find themselves needing a browsing respite in the largest independent book store in the United States. Acquiesce then to the World Cup Coffee and Tea House, situated right in the heart of the store. While noshing on the classic tomes of knowledge that surround you, you can also snack on delectable sandwiches and pastries and imbibe various coffees and teas.

You won’t run out of things to peruse in their aisles. When the aroma of World Cup’s roasting room catches your nose, you may find yourself distracted from your book surfing and instead perusing their large coffee collection. From beans to bean grinders to brewing — it’s like a tour unto itself to see how much goes into making the perfect cup of coffee.

And it would be remiss not to mention their teas, chai being a local favorite. "Their lattes have a great spicy flavor to them," said one pleased customer.

They also have a wide variety of black, green, and herbal teas that are sure to give your taste buds something to do while you read in the cozy café surroundings. Snack on a pastry, take in your favorite authors, and let the warmth of your beverage fill you as you check out what’s going on their flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.

All in all, Powell’s is a metropolis of literature. If you’re looking for a lazy afternoon retreat from the city outside, where you can get lost in the pages of great writers (as well as publish and print your own literature in the store), you will really enjoy the ambiance of a time-honored café. World Cup Coffee and Tea House in the heart of Powell’s is the perfect retreat.


The 19 best things to do in Portland right now

Of course you'll find donuts, breweries and food trucks among our list of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon (these are the thing PDX is famous for, after all), but we encourage you to look beyond these tasty treats to get a broader sense of the City of Roses. You could spend a lovely few days browsing handmade wares in the Pearl District, exploring lush parks and gardens, cycling over city bridges or tasting your way through the best restaurants. The list goes on, but we won't. Ready to keep it weird in PDX? We&rsquove narrowed your must-see list down to the 20 best things to do in Portland.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world .


4 thoughts on &ldquo Powell’s City of Books – And Finding Our Book On The Shelf! – Day 70 &rdquo

I love the bookstore. I could spend days there. Please add me to you website. It will be great to visit the states..thru your eyes. Good luck on the rest of your trip….Be safe!!

Thank you Peggy We will add you to our email list!

I am loving your photos and articles from your adventure! We have travelled across the US with our TruckCamper several times! I am revisiting some beautiful places…thank you so much. Our son lives near the Portland and I agree, I could spend a week in Powell Books.and never see it all!

It’s our pleasure! Our son will be moving to Beaverton in August so I would imagine we will be spending more time exploring the Portland area and Powell’s several more times in the future.


Powell's City of Books

We went to Powell's based on local friend's recommendations. I can't think of any used bookstores in Seattle that match this. The quantity of books organized by topic is amazing. The only dearth I found was computer books - granted, since they specialize in used books to a certain extent I suspect it's because those become irrelevant so quickly it's not cost-effective for them.

Found several great math topics including some new books that are semi-recent at greatly discounted prices.

We went to Powell's based on local friend's recommendations. I can't think of any used bookstores in Seattle that match this. The quantity of books organized by topic is amazing. The only dearth I found was computer books - granted, since they specialize in used books to a certain extent I suspect it's because those become irrelevant so quickly it's not cost-effective for them.

Found several great math topics including some new books that are semi-recent at greatly discounted prices.

As a visitor to Portland, I absolutely had to check out Powell's. At first glance, it can be a bit overwhelmed. The sheer magnitude and inventory of the store is outstanding. The high shelving and colorful layout is a severe contrast to the megabrand, Barnes and Noble, but the change can be quite stimulating. The employees KNOW books and can be a great resource. And if you've never been or didn't know it existed, you must take some time to explore the Rare Book Room. It is an incredible museum of historical literature. Powell's can be helpful if you need a specific book, but it is also a fantastic way to spend a few hours exploring on a rainy afternoon.

Take a deep breath. and enjoy the ride

As a visitor to Portland, I absolutely had to check out Powell's. At first glance, it can be a bit overwhelmed. The sheer magnitude and inventory of the store is outstanding. The high shelving and colorful layout is a severe contrast to the megabrand, Barnes and Noble, but the change can be quite stimulating. The employees KNOW books and can be a great resource. And if you've never been or didn't know it existed, you must take some time to explore the Rare Book Room. It is an incredible museum of historical literature. Powell's can be helpful if you need a specific book, but it is also a fantastic way to spend a few hours exploring on a rainy afternoon.

I wish they had better parking, but the amazing selection of books more than makes up for it. I love this store so much. It's why I moved to Portland, and why I'll stay. The prices are fabulous, the events are always awesome, and its just an all-around terrific store--what a bookstore should be!

I wish they had better parking, but the amazing selection of books more than makes up for it. I love this store so much. It's why I moved to Portland, and why I'll stay. The prices are fabulous, the events are always awesome, and its just an all-around terrific store--what a bookstore should be!

Tons of new and used books, very organized. Workers are very helpful and finding the book is easy with their computer system!
Tired then relax in their cafe. Always a joy to visit.

Tons of new and used books, very organized. Workers are very helpful and finding the book is easy with their computer system!
Tired then relax in their cafe. Always a joy to visit.

This is a place where books are born, this is book heaven! Anything and everything can be found here, including school books for all ages (even college). I think most customers live there to be honest. It's easy to get lost amongsts millions of books and it's a nice atmosphere to hang out on the couch and read a book. They have plenty of customer service clerks ready and willing to help a person find what they are looking for.

This is a place where books are born, this is book heaven! Anything and everything can be found here, including school books for all ages (even college). I think most customers live there to be honest. It's easy to get lost amongsts millions of books and it's a nice atmosphere to hang out on the couch and read a book. They have plenty of customer service clerks ready and willing to help a person find what they are looking for.

Ever since I was a senior in high school and visited this store with a school group, I have been in love with this place. Not really in love, like I'm not going to marry it but you get the picture. They give you a map, the place is four floors and they shelve used books with new books. The top floor is devoted to the Arts and this was probably my favorite. You could find anything about art that you needed. They also have a Pacific Northwest section, which has books about the PNW, the place I love to visit for the holidays and not just because my family lives there. For a bookstore, they have everything you could want in a vendor of books and more.

Ever since I was a senior in high school and visited this store with a school group, I have been in love with this place. Not really in love, like I'm not going to marry it but you get the picture. They give you a map, the place is four floors and they shelve used books with new books. The top floor is devoted to the Arts and this was probably my favorite. You could find anything about art that you needed. They also have a Pacific Northwest section, which has books about the PNW, the place I love to visit for the holidays and not just because my family lives there. For a bookstore, they have everything you could want in a vendor of books and more.

The Powell's on Burnside is huge. You can wander for hours on end. They have an amazing selection of books in just about every category you can think of. The prices are pretty good too! However, don't expect to get much money when selling your books there. They don't pay very much at all, but that is how they give you good prices when you buy from them. If you haven't been there yet, you should really check it out! Powell's is a nice place to wander around on a rainy, dreary day.

Plan to spend some time there.

The Powell's on Burnside is huge. You can wander for hours on end. They have an amazing selection of books in just about every category you can think of. The prices are pretty good too! However, don't expect to get much money when selling your books there. They don't pay very much at all, but that is how they give you good prices when you buy from them. If you haven't been there yet, you should really check it out! Powell's is a nice place to wander around on a rainy, dreary day.

You can literally spend days in this bookstore and never get bored! This bookstore is massive and has everything arranged and organized concisely (and by map even) The children's section is inviting and has several small tables and chairs for younger readers to look at books. There is a huge section of parenting books and even a small section of toys and small, special gift type items for children. They always have tons of specialized magazines for every interest and the best part about Powells is that you can bring in your old books and trade them in for new ones. Several times a month, Powells has visiting authors, which are always very popular events. Check it out!

Best bookstore in the world!

You can literally spend days in this bookstore and never get bored! This bookstore is massive and has everything arranged and organized concisely (and by map even) The children's section is inviting and has several small tables and chairs for younger readers to look at books. There is a huge section of parenting books and even a small section of toys and small, special gift type items for children. They always have tons of specialized magazines for every interest and the best part about Powells is that you can bring in your old books and trade them in for new ones. Several times a month, Powells has visiting authors, which are always very popular events. Check it out!

I love this bookstore. It has the greatest selection of books on any topic. My friend found an entire section devoted to books on Hungary - her specialty. If they had that, then they'll have what you are looking for. It is easy to spend several hours here without realizing it. I always come out with way more than I had planned to purchase. The staff is knowledgable and friendly.

PROS: Amazing selection.
CONS:

I love this bookstore. It has the greatest selection of books on any topic. My friend found an entire section devoted to books on Hungary - her specialty. If they had that, then they'll have what you are looking for. It is easy to spend several hours here without realizing it. I always come out with way more than I had planned to purchase. The staff is knowledgable and friendly.

PROS: Amazing selection.
CONS:

Every book reader must make it a priority to visit this ultimate book getaway!

The city of books is several stories high:
On the top floor you will find the rare book room and an everchanging art galery.

On the ground floor, a convenient and quant coffee room looking out on Burnside where you can sit, enjoy a pastry, and preview what you might buy.

In between you'll find a dizzying selection of books which is to be savored slowly! You'll need plenty of time (and a map) to explore this place.

Every book reader must make it a priority to visit this ultimate book getaway!

The city of books is several stories high:
On the top floor you will find the rare book room and an everchanging art galery.

On the ground floor, a convenient and quant coffee room looking out on Burnside where you can sit, enjoy a pastry, and preview what you might buy.

In between you'll find a dizzying selection of books which is to be savored slowly! You'll need plenty of time (and a map) to explore this place.

I am big on supporting local industry, so I love that the nation's largest independant bookstore is in Portland.

They have an amazing selection of new and used books. I feel like I am in heaven everytime I walk through their doors. The low prices only help to feed the habit of a book junkie like me.

The staff is friendly, but unobtrusive. They also seem to care more about what they are doing than employees at mega book chain stores.

I am big on supporting local industry, so I love that the nation's largest independant bookstore is in Portland.

They have an amazing selection of new and used books. I feel like I am in heaven everytime I walk through their doors. The low prices only help to feed the habit of a book junkie like me.

The staff is friendly, but unobtrusive. They also seem to care more about what they are doing than employees at mega book chain stores.

"CITY OF KNOWLEDEGE ". when i say city i really mean city. this is a huge bookstore. the biggest i have ever seen . they have both new as well as old books for sale . they have a huge variety of alll kinds of books. you can almost find anything here under one roof. the quality of the books is also very good when compared that they are old . they look as good as new and their prices are also very low. they are pretty well oragnised and you can find anything easily . they have systems which help you to locate the category and type of book you are looking for. They even have maps around their huge store which help you to get around quickly and easily. Lots of things to learn and to get knowledge from. Perhaps one of the best places i have been too.

"CITY OF KNOWLEDEGE ". when i say city i really mean city. this is a huge bookstore. the biggest i have ever seen . they have both new as well as old books for sale . they have a huge variety of alll kinds of books. you can almost find anything here under one roof. the quality of the books is also very good when compared that they are old . they look as good as new and their prices are also very low. they are pretty well oragnised and you can find anything easily . they have systems which help you to locate the category and type of book you are looking for. They even have maps around their huge store which help you to get around quickly and easily. Lots of things to learn and to get knowledge from. Perhaps one of the best places i have been too.

You will never be disapointed when you make a visit to Powell's Books. They have the most extensive collection of books anywhere. If you love books and your looking for something old or new here you will find it. The service is great and the choices are endless.

You will never be disapointed when you make a visit to Powell's Books. They have the most extensive collection of books anywhere. If you love books and your looking for something old or new here you will find it. The service is great and the choices are endless.

Powells city of book is truly that. Thye have everything you couold want. I'm goign tto be a freshman in college and I went to Powells to compare prices. They have both new and used books and i ended up saving money and finding almost all of my required books. No wonder it's so famous!

Powells city of book is truly that. Thye have everything you couold want. I'm goign tto be a freshman in college and I went to Powells to compare prices. They have both new and used books and i ended up saving money and finding almost all of my required books. No wonder it's so famous!

I love going to Powell's Bookstore! I am a book lover, and it's wonderful to see all the used and new books of ANY type you can imagine. I can lose myself in this store for hours just browsing the aisles finding every book under the sun, just waiting to be read!

I love going to Powell's Bookstore! I am a book lover, and it's wonderful to see all the used and new books of ANY type you can imagine. I can lose myself in this store for hours just browsing the aisles finding every book under the sun, just waiting to be read!

This bookstore is virtually a block of the street. A lot of books, new, and pre-owned. They have good collection on maps, and foreign languages. Computers are conveniently located at each corner to help the customer to find what they want. The price is okay for commonly find books, but it is a good chance that you won't find the rare books you are looking for elsewhere. This is also a great place for friend to meet, kills the waiting time fast.

PROS: Good Selection, helpful information
CONS: Lightling is only okay

Must See In Portland, Oregon

This bookstore is virtually a block of the street. A lot of books, new, and pre-owned. They have good collection on maps, and foreign languages. Computers are conveniently located at each corner to help the customer to find what they want. The price is okay for commonly find books, but it is a good chance that you won't find the rare books you are looking for elsewhere. This is also a great place for friend to meet, kills the waiting time fast.

PROS: Good Selection, helpful information
CONS: Lightling is only okay

This place is terrific. You can find pretty much anything in this huge bookstore. Powell's consists of multiple levels and rooms, filling a city block. The staff are knowledgable and friendly. There are also a number of kiosks that you can use to do a self search.

If there is something you can't find, they are usually able to order it in for you. They also have a number of writers and other artists that sometimes speak on site.

This place is terrific. You can find pretty much anything in this huge bookstore. Powell's consists of multiple levels and rooms, filling a city block. The staff are knowledgable and friendly. There are also a number of kiosks that you can use to do a self search.

If there is something you can't find, they are usually able to order it in for you. They also have a number of writers and other artists that sometimes speak on site.

A local landmark, and even known nationally, don't judge a book by its cover: the main entrance to this block-sized store makes it look like slightly scuzzy. Once inside, however, you could get lost for days (though they'll probably kick you out before that happens), since the place is a maze of new and used books that scatters in all directions. It's certainly easier to sit at home and "browse" through Amazon.com, but there's still something to be said for the hands-on approach.

A local landmark, and even known nationally, don't judge a book by its cover: the main entrance to this block-sized store makes it look like slightly scuzzy. Once inside, however, you could get lost for days (though they'll probably kick you out before that happens), since the place is a maze of new and used books that scatters in all directions. It's certainly easier to sit at home and "browse" through Amazon.com, but there's still something to be said for the hands-on approach.

this place is a serious book paradise. It takes up a full square block, is a tourist attraction, and you can find any book there! They even have rare out of print ones not available in other places. There is also a nice little coffee shop where you can sit and read your newfound purchase while sipping a latte or whatever. come on down and find out about this place! i even go here just to "window" shop.

PROS: very cool, seriously have every book
CONS: can get lost if you aren't careful

this place is a serious book paradise. It takes up a full square block, is a tourist attraction, and you can find any book there! They even have rare out of print ones not available in other places. There is also a nice little coffee shop where you can sit and read your newfound purchase while sipping a latte or whatever. come on down and find out about this place! i even go here just to "window" shop.

PROS: very cool, seriously have every book
CONS: can get lost if you aren't careful

City of books is an understatement. The selection at Powell's is incredible, there are so many books that you can almost always find what you are looking for. The atmosphere is wholesome and genuine. The computer kiosks are quite helpful in finding where in the City of Books to look for your titles and the staff is very helpful if you cant find what you are looking for. Parking around Burnside can be a bother, but they validate parking if you make a purchase.

City of books is an understatement. The selection at Powell's is incredible, there are so many books that you can almost always find what you are looking for. The atmosphere is wholesome and genuine. The computer kiosks are quite helpful in finding where in the City of Books to look for your titles and the staff is very helpful if you cant find what you are looking for. Parking around Burnside can be a bother, but they validate parking if you make a purchase.

This is the place to go if you are looking to purchase reading material. They have new and used (cheaper) books for everyone. It is really fun to spend hours getting lost in the monstrous bookstore! They also have their own parking garage, which can be difficult to navigate, but is a definite perk when you are fighting for a parking spot downtown.

Wonderful maze of reading

This is the place to go if you are looking to purchase reading material. They have new and used (cheaper) books for everyone. It is really fun to spend hours getting lost in the monstrous bookstore! They also have their own parking garage, which can be difficult to navigate, but is a definite perk when you are fighting for a parking spot downtown.

Books, magazines, journals, toys: this place has it all. Powells downtown is the largest bookstore I could ever imagine. They sell used and new books, and their prices are very reasonable. I could spend all day at Powells reading and people watching. Their toys are also funny. I saw Poe and Einstein action figures.

Books, magazines, journals, toys: this place has it all. Powells downtown is the largest bookstore I could ever imagine. They sell used and new books, and their prices are very reasonable. I could spend all day at Powells reading and people watching. Their toys are also funny. I saw Poe and Einstein action figures.

I absolutely think this is the best darned bookstore around--it really is a bit overwhelming when you first explore--the sheer volume of books is amazing! But the color-coded rooms are surprisingly well organized and the staff are friendly--great place to spend a rainy afternoon!

I absolutely think this is the best darned bookstore around--it really is a bit overwhelming when you first explore--the sheer volume of books is amazing! But the color-coded rooms are surprisingly well organized and the staff are friendly--great place to spend a rainy afternoon!

The size of this store is almost overwhelming -- but in a good way! I hardly ever know where to start! If you can make it out of this store without spending all of your money, you have more willpower than I do!

The size of this store is almost overwhelming -- but in a good way! I hardly ever know where to start! If you can make it out of this store without spending all of your money, you have more willpower than I do!

This place is simply AWSOME. Yuo can find almost andthing here! They have new and used books. The staff is GREAT! And I always find something interesting! I love it! They also can track down books you are interested in that they do not have on had. Seeing thier selection, I cannot see how they wouldn't have something that anyone could possibly be wanting!! You have to check this place out!

This place is simply AWSOME. Yuo can find almost andthing here! They have new and used books. The staff is GREAT! And I always find something interesting! I love it! They also can track down books you are interested in that they do not have on had. Seeing thier selection, I cannot see how they wouldn't have something that anyone could possibly be wanting!! You have to check this place out!

Clean store, great selection. I've purchased book via their website, too---quick response for new books but I haven't had good luck with used books online. Still: Wandering around Powells is a great way to kill an afternoon and do damage to your pocketbook.

Clean store, great selection. I've purchased book via their website, too---quick response for new books but I haven't had good luck with used books online. Still: Wandering around Powells is a great way to kill an afternoon and do damage to your pocketbook.

This truly is a city of books. The main store takes up a full city block and has three stories of books available to the patrons. There are plenty of new and used books in every genre imaginable. For true bibliophiles, there is an area dedicated to rare books. On the main floor, there is also a spacious coffee shop. The employees do request that any backpacks or large bags are checked at one of the cash register areas. In addition to selling books, Powell's also buys books from its customers, offering cash or store credit. Powell's is conveniently located along the streetcar tracks in Downtown Portland within the fareless square. I would, however, avoid the parking lot if you own a car bigger than a Mini-Cooper. It is an accident waiting to happen.

One of the largest independent bookstores

This truly is a city of books. The main store takes up a full city block and has three stories of books available to the patrons. There are plenty of new and used books in every genre imaginable. For true bibliophiles, there is an area dedicated to rare books. On the main floor, there is also a spacious coffee shop. The employees do request that any backpacks or large bags are checked at one of the cash register areas. In addition to selling books, Powell's also buys books from its customers, offering cash or store credit. Powell's is conveniently located along the streetcar tracks in Downtown Portland within the fareless square. I would, however, avoid the parking lot if you own a car bigger than a Mini-Cooper. It is an accident waiting to happen.


Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon

If you identify as book lover, bookshelf porn junkie, independent bookstore seeker, or overall nerd in love with the written word, you have probably spent your fair share of time exploring the stacks of little shops. I visited Powell’s on a recommendation from a traveling friend who recognized my obsession with reading and knew I would be heading to Portland, Oregon for the first time.

Open since 1971, Powell’s Books exists as the United States’ largest independent bookseller. The company’s mission “is to be the world’s best destination for readers, a place that fosters a culture of reading and connects people with the books they’ll love.” The store houses something for every taste.

Multi-level, with nine large rooms devoted to different genres of works, Powell’s is a place one can wander for days. The on-site coffee shop serves as a wonderful spot for nestling up with a hot-cuppa and a potential new paperback best friend or a place to discuss writers, ideologies, weekly reads, and more.

I fell in love at first sight with this place. Books. Everywhere. Personally, I was particularly drawn to the Local Reads shelf where I was introduced to the work of Miranda July (an author I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of before!).


Powell's City of Books

Here's what Trippy members say about Powell's City of Books:

"It has one of the great remaining bookstores, Powell's City of Books ." See More

"2) Powell's City of Books is an ENORMOUS new and used bookstore woth getting lost in for a couple of hours." See More

"There's an entire city block lined and spilling over with trucks near Powell's City of Books at 10th and Alder." See More

"Let's not forget wandering around Powell's City of Books ." See More

"Also don't miss International Rose Test Garden Powell's City of Books ." See More

" Portland: Powell's City of Books !" See More

"Cool to combine with Powell's City of Books which is a Portland institution." See More

"The Portland Saturday Market , Powell's City of Books and I haven't done it yet, but Glowing Greens glow in the dark mini-golf sounds kid-friendly and fun!" See More

"* Browsing through Powell's City of Books : Even if your kids are not totally committed to reading, you shouldn't miss Powell’s." See More

" Powell's City of Books (just a cool place to stop) is nearby and the popular Voodoo Doughnuts is a quick walk from there." See More

"Hop on the street car and you can head up to The Pearl and experience Powell's City of Books and get lost in the enormity of the books they stock." See More

" Powell's City of Books is also an awesome place for kids/young inquisitive minds to explore." See More

"Also in the vicinity is Powell's City of Books which is a Portland institution." See More

"So many breweries, I have only been to a few and can't say I'm a beer connoisseur, but I've enjoyed BridgePort BrewPub and Rogue Ales Public House in the Pearl District , and while in the area, you should stop in to Powell's City of Books ." See More

"The Pearl has great shops, coffee and don't forget to visit Powell's City of Books ." See More


Powell's Will Continue to Sell Andy Ngo's Book Online

Far-right provocateur Andy Ngo has few fans in Portland—and his forthcoming book has only made his opponents louder.

In an email to Portland Monthly, journalist Tuck Woodstock called out what they see as a clear pattern of harassment and online abuse by Ngo.

“Over the last several months, Andy has used his massive social media platform to target dozens of journalists and protesters, sharing their identifying information with his 762K twitter followers alongside inflammatory and often false captions,” they write. “This has happened to such an extent that protest attendees started making, ‘I got doxed by Andy Ngo and all I got was this t-shirt’-style merch. Multiple protest attendees have experienced so much harassment after being targeted by Andy that they changed their addresses.

Now, in the wake of the assault on the US Capitol and the subsequent banishment of President Trump and many far-right radicals from social media, protesters in Portland demanded that Powell's remove Ngo's book from its inventory, many assembling outside the downtown store, leading management to close it early twice this week. Powell's announced Monday the book would be available online but not in stores, citing its longstanding policy of selling objectionable books. But Woodstock says the issue is bigger than that.

“I presume that the reason folks are asking Powell’s not to carry Andy's book is not (just) because they don't like him as a person,” they write, “it's because he has built a following by repurposing other journalists' content to create fake news narratives, and uses that following to direct harassment towards individual Portlanders. There's no reason to think that his book wouldn't be more of the same.”

Meanwhile, Emily Powell released a letter responding to the "hundreds of emails, calls, and social media comments" and explaining her decision to keep the book available online: "Our current fight does not feel virtuous. It feels ugly and sickening to give any air to writing that could cause such deep pain to members of our community. But we have always sold books that many of us would reject." The letter went out to the store's mailing list on Wednesday.


Local’s Guide to Powell’s Books

Rated by CNN as one of the coolest bookstores in the world, Powell’s Books, dubbed City of Books, is the largest independently owned bookstore in the world – selling both new and used titles for visitors and locals to enjoy.

Just how large is Powell’s Books? Well, for starters, it covers an entire city block. What’s more, it’s home to more than one million books. Book worms, rejoice!

Needless to say, if you’re visiting Portland you MUST swing by Powell’s Books. This quick post will make your visit more informed and enjoyable.

Where is Powell’s Book Store?
  • Powell’s Books is right on the border of the Pearl District and Downtown. There are two entrances: Couch & 11 th (pictured below) and Burnside & 10 th .
  • The entrance on Burnside & 10 th is considered the main entrance (the first photo).
  • Official address: 1005 W Burnside St.

City of Books Hours
  • Powell’s City of Books is open daily from 9am to 10pm.
  • The store is surprisingly open 365 days a year (yes, really), which means you can visit Christmas day.
Parking at Powell’s Books

Street Parking

Street parking reigns supreme but is tough to find in this popular area.

  • Street parking is $2 per hour, 2 hour max.
  • Parking enforced Monday through Saturday from 8am to 7pm and Sunday from 1pm to 7pm.

SmartPark Garage | SW 10th & Yamhill

This is my preferred option but it’s a little further away.

Powell’s Café (Word Cup Coffee & Tea)
  • World Cup Coffee & Tea is located on the first floor. Enjoy a hot cup of tea (or coffee) while scanning through a book — An interview, or sorts, to determine the fit is right.
  • The café offers a full drink menu in addition to pastries and light meals (salads and sandwiches).
  • The cafe is open daily from 9am to 10:45pm.
Good to know before visiting
  • There is NO seating at Powell’s — visitors are encourage to peruse the aisles but not to sit and read.
  • Restrooms are located on the second floor, a code is required (ask a store associate).
  • Registers are located at both ends of the bookstore, by the entrances.

With about 3,000 customers every day, the bookstore gets busy. What’s more, that number doesn’t even include the additional 3,000 visitors per day that simply peruse the shelves.

Layout

With over 68,000 square feet and 3,500 sections to peruse, Powell’s Books offers a very handy map for visitors (available for pickup throughout the store).

Breakdown of rooms by category

There’s 9 color-coded rooms at Powell’s Books. Here’s a list of sections found in each room.

First Floor
  • Orange Room: agriculture, cooking, film + tv, gardening, humor, music
  • Rose Room: child care, children’s, education, games, kids’ graphic novels, parenting, pets, trivia, young adult
  • Gold Room: fantasy, fiction, games, graphic novels, horror, manga, mystery + thrillers, role playing games, science fiction, true crimes,
  • Blue Room: classics, drama, fiction, literature, poetry, small press, westerns
  • Green Room: new arrivals, souvenirs.
Second Floor
  • Red Room : Americana, animals, anthropology, archaeology, atlases, audio books, automotive, aviation, birds, botany, economics, environmental studies, ethnic studies, feminist studies, gender studies, geology, hiking, history, languages, LGBTQ, maps, meteorology, military, native American studies, nature, nautical, outdoors, pacific northwest, politics, reference, sociology, transportation, travel
  • Purple Room: business, careers, child psychology, dance, health, investing, law, management, martial arts, metaphysics, mythology, philosophy, recovery, religions, self-help, sports, test guides, yoga
Third Floor
  • Pearl Room: architecture, art, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computing, crafts, engineering, home construction, interior design, math, photography, physics, science, weddings
  • Rare Book Room

Must Do: Visit the Rare Book Room
  • The Rare Book Room houses approximately 9,000 valuable books –ranging from autographed books, first editions and other collectable volumes. This is my favorite area to explore.
  • The Rare Book Room is open daily from 11am to 7pm.

Fun fact: The most expensive book in the Rare Book Room is $350,000, it’s the two volume History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark to the Sources of the Missouri.

Events at Powell’s Books
  • Kids story time occurs every Saturday at 11am in the Rose Room.
  • Powell’s hosts frequent readings and events in the Pearl Room — click here for the event calendar.
    • I once met President Jimmy Carter at a book signing event at Powell’s – so cool!

    How to sell books at Powell’s

    Powell’s is happy to purchase used books based on the needs of the store at time of purchase.

    • To sell your books, use the entrance at Couch and 11 th .
    • Valid photo ID is required.
    • Books are bought daily from 9am to 8pm.
    • Powell’s does not accept outdated textbooks or old encyclopedia sets.
    • Powell’s offers approximately 50% more in Powell’s credit (redeemable in store or online) than in cash.

    Fun fact: Powell’s buys around 3,000 books a day.

    Location, location, location

    In addition to the flagship store on Burnside, Powell’s has 3 satellite locations:

    • Southeast Hawthorne Blvd: General bookstore plus focus on garden and cookbooks.
    • Beaverton: Large bookstore offering a wide selection of books.
    • Portland International Airport (PDX): Before security, close to Blue Star Donuts.

    History of Powell’s Books

    Started in 1971 by a man named Walter Powell who was inspired by his son’s success opening and managing a profitable bookstore in Chicago. Powell’s established an internet presence in 1993 and created a website in 1994 (before Amazon!).

    Afterward, in 1999, Powell’s expanded to include the entrance facing the Pearl District. A Pillar of Books was also added that depicts the eight greatest books in the world with a Latin inscription that reads, “Buy the book, read the book, enjoy the book, sell the book.”

    Acclaim
    • 2002 | USA Today cited Powell’s as one of America’s 10 best bookstores.
    • 2015 | CNN dubs Powell’s as one of the best bookstores in the world.

    I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. We currently reside 6 blocks from the bookstore and swing by every chance we get.

    Finally, Powell’s Books and then Powell’s book store, as a result Powell’s City of Books.


    Contents

    20th century Edit

    Powell's was founded by Walter Powell in 1971. His son, Michael Powell, had started a bookstore in Chicago, Illinois, in 1970 which specialized in used, rare, and discounted books, primarily of an academic and scholarly nature. In 1979, Michael Powell joined his father in Portland, right after his father's store was not offered a lease renewal within a year, they found the location that became its current headquarters. [1] Michael bought the bookstore from his father in 1982. [3]

    In 1984, [10] [11] Powell's opened its first branch store, in a suburban shopping center named Loehmann's Plaza [11] (later renamed Cascade Plaza), [12] near Washington Square. The new branch was not a replica of its City of Books location Powell was concerned that the "edgy" neighborhood of its headquarters location was limiting its customer base, so the new store was "fairly fancy" with white shelving, a tile floor, and banners over the aisles. [1] It was also four times the size of the typical chain bookstore. [3]

    A travel bookstore was established in 1985 on Pioneer Courthouse Square, and other stores followed, one a year for the next few years. [1] By the early 1990s, Powell's bookstores were part of the resurgence of the independent bookstore, which collectively made 32 percent of book sales in the U.S. [3] The travel store closed in 2005. [13]

    Powell's established its Internet presence in 1993, beginning with email and FTP-based access to its technical bookstore it has since expanded to incorporate fiction and other genres as a traditional ecommerce site. [14] Their website was established in 1994, before Amazon.com, and has contributed substantially to the chain's recent growth. [15]

    The City of Books location grew to its current size after an expansion that opened in 1999 it included a new entrance facing the Pearl District which featured the "Pillar of Books", a Tenino sandstone carving depicting a stack of eight of the world's great books, on a base with the inscription "Buy the book, read the book, enjoy the book, sell the book" in Latin. [3] For the year ending June 2000, Powell's revenue was $41.8 million. [3]

    21st century Edit

    In 2002, Powell's was cited by USA Today as one of America's 10 best bookstores. [16]

    In January 2008, Powell's announced plans to expand the downtown City of Books by adding as many as two floors to the store's southeast corner. The expansion was due to add at least 10,000 square feet (930 m 2 ) of new retail space. [17] [18] [19] Plans submitted to the Portland Design Commission in November 2008 called for a rooftop garden atop the new addition and an "art cube" over a redesigned main entrance. [20]

    In March 2010, Michael Powell confirmed plans to hand over management of the business to his daughter Emily as of July. [1] That same month, Powell's announced it would close its technical bookstore on the North Park Blocks, moving its sections on math, science, computing, engineering, construction and transportation into "Powell’s Books Building 2" at the corner of 10th and Couch Street, near the main City of Books location the consolidation was in response to a five-year decline in brick-and-mortar sales of technical books in favor of online sales. [2]

    In October 2010, Powell's announced it had bought 7,000 books from the library of author Anne Rice Powell's offers these association copies on their website. [21] The bookstore was revealed as a charter member of the Google eBooks service when the news was announced by Google on December 6, 2010. [22]

    In June 2011, Powell's participated in Google Offers during that service's first month of operation according to TechCrunch—which characterized Powell's as a "Portland institution"—"5,000 Powell’s vouchers sold out in a matter of hours", making it "most popular deal in the month." [23]

    Starting in May 2012, [24] Powell's began offering access to print on demand books via the Espresso Book Machine. [25] [26]

    In early 2013, Emily Powell announced that Miriam Sontz, the company's chief operating officer, would take over as chief executive officer. [27]

    In late 2014 "Powell’s Books Building 2" was closed and the technical books at that location were moved into the main City of Books location.

    CEO Miriam Sontz retired in January 2019. [28] Emily Powell remains president and owner. [29]

    Labor relations Edit

    In 1991, following some post-holiday lay-offs, some of Powell's employees formed an organizing committee, seeking to become part of the Oregon Public Employees Union (OPEU). They got more than 35% of the employees to sign union cards but chose not to file for a union certification election because less than 65% had signed, a threshold suggested by the OPEU. [30] In response to issues identified by the organizing employees, Powell's updated and expanded its employee handbook in April 1992 with changes that addressed processes for problem solving and grievances, the probation and termination procedure, and other employee assistance, among other changes.

    In September 1998, email from Powell's managers announcing reductions in employee's wage increases prompted the creation of a new organizing committee of 26 employees. They chose the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) because they could charter their own self-governing local union which would include about 350 employees serving in a variety of jobs in all stores and in the Internet, corporate, and shipping departments. By March 1999, they filed for a union certification election with the National Labor Relations Board. A month later, by a vote of 161–155, ILWU Local 5 became official. [30]

    In September 1999, ILWU Local 5 met for the first time with Powell's management, to begin the contract bargaining process. After some early successes, 2000 saw a slowdown in the discussions, followed by rallies, filings of unfair labor practices, an unsuccessful decertification campaign, a one-day shutdown of the shipping department (accompanied by the slashing of a van's tire), and federal mediation. A three-year contract was finally announced in August 2000. [30]

    In February 2011 Powell's announced the layoffs of 31 employees, over 7% of its unionized workforce, in “response to the unprecedented, rapidly changing nature of the book industry". It was the first round of layoffs since the store's workers formed a union. A union representative said that Powell's had reduced its workforce by about 40 in the prior year through attrition, but felt that layoffs were still necessary because of a decline in sales of new books and a rise in health care costs. [31]

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Powell's announced the closing of its five locations and the termination of nearly all employees in mid-March 2020. [32] The letter released by CEO Emily Powell on March 17, 2020, did not disclose the exact number of employees that were laid off. However, roughly 85% of the 400 members of the company's unionized workforce were terminated. [33] More than 100 former staffers were then rehired to fulfill a large surge of online orders, but the union pointed out that only 49 were union-represented, and that the rest were managers who were now doing front-line work normally done by represented employees. [34] [35]

    Politics Edit

    Powell's Books was a key opponent of Oregon's Measure 97, which would have raised corporate taxes to fund schools, healthcare and senior services. Michael Powell contributed $25,000 to the opposition campaign. [36] Powell's Books was featured in television ads for the No campaign, [37] and Emily Powell signed a statement opposing the measure in the voter's pamphlet. [38]

    In addition to its "City of Books" location, Powell's Books also has several smaller stores:


    Inside Indie Bookstores: Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon

    Few independent bookstores are more iconic than Powell's Books. Even readers who've never been to Portland, Oregon, know about the store from its ads in places like the New Yorker, or from its prominent online presence, or from its reputation as the largest new- and used-book store in the world. The "City of Books," as the four-story flagship store on West Burnside is known, occupies an entire city block, and carries more than one million books. The sixty-eight-thousand-square-foot space is divided into nine color-coded rooms, which together house more than 3,500 sections. From the moment you walk in, it feels as if you could find anything there. (And if you can't, try one of the seven branch stores in five other locations throughout Portland, specializing in everything from technical books to home and garden.)

    I was early for my interview with owner Michael Powell, so I decided to get a coffee in the attached café. Like the bookstore itself, the guiding aesthetic is simplicity—no overstuffed chairs, no fireplace, no decorations on the salmon-colored walls other than some taped-up flyers for local bands and a Buddhist meditation group. Not that anyone seems to notice. While I was there, every single person I encountered was reading. At the table nearest me a high school girl in cat-eye glasses and a ski cap read Lucy Knisley's French Milk (Epigraph Publishing, 2000), with a stack of David Sedaris waiting at her elbow. A well-dressed elderly woman flipped through the Oregonian not too far away. And on the other side, near the windows, a young woman with black hair and piercings through both her cheeks was making a list of recipes from The Garden of Vegan (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2003). Filling the rest of the tables were hipsters in zip-up sweatshirts and Chuck Taylor All Stars, a young father in a shirt and tie with his two children, construction workers wearing Carhartt overalls, and women with trendy bags and knee-high leather boots. All were reading. Here was a microcosm of the store: A diversity of people and interests, sure, but what's most important in Powell's is neither image nor decor but the books themselves.

    This is not to say that the store doesn't have a unique vibe. Like Michael Powell himself, there is a straightforwardness to Powell's that puts a person at ease. When the owner and I met, he was dressed casually in jeans and a pullover sweater. And though he had to attend a black-tie community event later that night, he was generous with his time, walking me through both the history of the business and the store itself—how the portion of the building with terrazzo floors had originally been an American Motors dealership how when they built the newer sections of the store, more than a decade ago, they'd intentionally left the concrete floors bare because the industrial feel not only complemented the plain, pine bookcases but also added to the laid-back atmosphere and how proud he is that their foreign-language section alone accommodates more than thirty thousand titles.

    Michael Powell's philosophy on bookselling is simple: He wants to provide people with books. He has no interest in telling people what to read. Nor would he ever judge a person by the type of books she purchases. New or used, dime-store paperback or first-edition hardcover, manga or metaphysics, all are equally at home on his shelves.

    This sense of equality permeates every aspect of the Powell's business model, from the practice of shelving used and new books side by side in each section, to the store's long-standing advocacy on free-speech issues, to the fact that its five hundred employees are unionized and have a matching 401(k) plan. Likewise, Powell may be the boss, but it's clear that he also sees himself as a fellow employee. When we left the downtown location and he drove me across town to the former ball-bearing warehouse that is now the site of the online bookselling operations, no one had to "look busy" when the owner arrived. Instead, they chatted with him as we walked through the facility, offering updates on their various ongoing projects, including ideas for how best to recycle used packaging materials. The warehouse, which feels like an airplane hangar but with the sound of jazz floating in the air, processes up to three thousand online orders daily. And 70 percent of those are single-title orders, a fact that amazes Powell, a logical man who never ceases to be surprised or impressed by his customers, even when they pay more than twenty dollars to have a four- dollar book shipped overnight. It makes him wonder aloud how he can better meet their needs.

    This, then, might be the trait that best characterizes Michael Powell: curiosity. He is endlessly curious about the world, about his employees' ideas, about what his customers want to read, and about innovative ways to do business. It is a trait that has served him well during his last four decades of bookselling. And though he'll officially hand over the reins of the business to his daughter, Emily, in July, when he turns seventy, one gets the sense that Powell will always be dreaming of how to connect books and people. Because it's clear that he loves them both.

    How did you become a bookseller?
    In the mid-sixties I ran a little student co-op [at the University of Chicago] where students could sell textbooks and other books on consignment. I also rode my bike around to various thrift shops in the general area and went to the Sunday morning flea market called Maxwell Street—which was very famous in its day in Chicago—to buy books and put them on consignment. Then I sold books by catalogue for a couple years to university libraries, mostly out-of-print social science and history, before I opened my first store in 1970, in Chicago.

    Early on, I was thinking of opening a store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, because my wife and I had traveled to Santa Fe and saw it for the first time and everybody falls in love with Santa Fe the first time. She was being offered a job as a Montessori teacher there and I was going to open a bookstore when I got a phone call from a mentor in Hyde Park, in Chicago. He wanted to move his store because he'd been attacked by a customer.

    He'd found a new location that was closer to campus, and the reason it was currently vacant was that the Weathermen had firebombed its previous occupant out of existence and he didn't want to go back into it, he was too nervous. And the university—well, not exactly the university, but whoever was in charge of organizing these things—had approached my friend. However, the space was too big for him he wanted to take only half of it. So he said to me, "You take half and do mostly paperbacks, and I'll do hardbacks." And I said, "I could do that, but I don't have the money." My wife says I was always good for twenty bucks but never for a hundred. And he said, "There are some professors who would like to talk to you about that they're kind of the patron saints of bookstores." There were three of them: Morris Janowitz, Edward Shils, and the third one was Saul Bellow. Morris Janowitz, who was the lead, came to me and said, "What would you need?" I had no idea. So I said—and this is, remember, 1970—I said, "Probably three thousand dollars." And he said, "We can do that. We can loan you three thousand dollars." Then I said, "But, you know, I've got a problem. I don't know how quickly this will get up and running. And there's all the rent." So he said, "We can help with rent, too, for a little while." Rent was, I think, a hundred dollars a month. So, okay, now they're rehabbing the building and there's some time before I can occupy it. So my wife and I take a thousand of the three thousand and we travel across the country to Oregon to visit my folks. [Laughter.]

    When we were back in Chicago, I took the remaining two thousand dollars and bought some books. A friend and I built some shelves, and we opened. Like I was saying, it was a small, small store. But we did well. The students, of course, liked used paperbacks. They thought that was great. At some point my neighbor moved away and I took his space. Then there was another business in the back. and when they went away I took that space. So, ultimately, it was about four thousand square feet.

    And then my dad [who had come to Chicago to work in the bookstore] went back to Portland in 1971. He opened his shop, moved once into a space of about ten thousand square feet, and had begun to introduce new books into the mix, shelving them side by side with used books. In 1979 he said, "You know, now wouldn't be a bad time if you're interested in coming back." I always thought I would come back. I always thought of myself as an Oregonian, always kept my Oregon driver's license. And I said, "Yeah, I'd like to do that." There had been a huge snowstorm in Chicago that winter we'd had an infant—she was born in November—and we had to get out of the neighborhood we were in. It wasn't suitable for raising a family, and I'd had it with the weather. So coming back to Oregon sounded great to me.

    Well, the night before we left Chicago, my dad called. He said, "I've got some news: We've lost our lease." Our landlord, which was a brewery, had wanted to take the space back and had given us a year to find a new location. So we spent that year searching, and we found the space that is currently Powell's Books. In the mid-eighties, we started opening branch stores. I was always curious about new ways to do things with books I didn't want just to replicate anything. And one of the questions was if we could do our new-used mix and do it in the suburbs, where everybody's perception was that it would have to be Borders or Barnes & Noble or something.



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