Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Favorite Book Store..IN THE WHOLE WORLD!

Okay, here is the deal .
This entire post will be pretty much nothing but a shameless plug.

Powell's Books, a Portland Oregon landmark, is THE BEST DAMN BOOKSTORE IN THE WORLD - PERIOD.

I don't say that because I'm now a web partner of theirs. I'm a web partner of theirs because I'm really very proud of them.
I take my daughter shopping there as the rare Father & Daughter treat when I have some spare money & want to make her Really Really Happy. (Could there be anything cuter than a highly intelligent, articulate, and studious 27 year old woman/daughter reduced to a giggling 5 year old in the middle of a huge bookstore?)

Powell's Books is the world's largest independent book store.
The original store in downtown Portland, Oregon, takes up an entire city block, four stories tall, of books and related shopping space (and I think perhaps a couple more floors of warehouse space). It has it's own parking garage, and of course, It's own cafe/coffee shop. The Coffee shop is also an independent, not a Starbucks - though Starbucks, another Pacific North West bred company is fine too.
The clerks at Powell's may have poly-chromatic hairdos (or tats), multiple piercings in more places than you really want to know about, and funny clothes (by whatever standard you might apply) - or not. They WILL be courteous and helpful and will absolutely know their stuff.

Powell's sells new and used books. TOGETHER.
What this means is that when you find the book your looking for, or one you just happened on to, you will find not only pristine new copies, but also any used copies they have - right side by side.

Like many book stores now, they have multiple computer terminals for customer use throughout the store, dedicated to their inventory and or web site.
If you do a search for a book the system will give you not only the price and location of the new copies, but also individual listings of any and all used copies and the prices thereof (Which will be in the same location as the new copies). And those used prices will often vary according to a number of factors - hard or soft cover, condition, Or perhaps a signed edition (not at all unusual as many authors appear and sign at Powell's). You may very well have a range of price options for any given book to fit your budget and desires.

They will also buy your used books - on line, if you like.

They have a marvelous Rare & Collectible section.
This part of the store is like a whole separate little enclosed old world book store within the store. It is generally presided over by a somewhat aged, bearded & reading glasses wearing fellow who will be... you guessed it - Courteous & Helpful & who ABSOLUTELY knows his stuff.

I once found about a 100 year old copy of a really wonderful book on Japanese art there, for $5 - IN THE REGULAR ART SECTION. It didn't even rate being in their Rare & Collectible shop.

One of the grown Powell Children has been quoted as saying that when the "old Man" first said he had this great idea to shelve new and used books together, the then young man thought it was crazy and would be the downfall of the store. Happily, just the opposite has proven to be true. That format has been Wildly popular with Powell's customers. For all I know, other bookstores may have followed suit by now, but I'm not sure as I don't often go anywhere else.
Check out their web site's pages of essays and blogs, some of which will be by author guest blogger/essayists.

If you like cats, cat's stories - as told to persons having opposable thumbs, or book store cats (every good book store should have at LEAST one), then please check out the page(s) about Fup, Store Cat (see water color image, top of posting)
As you may have figured out by now, Powell's is pretty much it's own not so little literary world.
Their bumper sticker is the only one I allow on my car. Incidentally mine depicts Mt Hood, the local dormant volcano & tallest peak of the Oregon Cascade range, the most climbed and most deadly mountain in the U.S. Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood was where the Jack Nicholson version of THE SHINING was mostly filmed. Oregon trivia for the day.....
Happy Sunday
John Ross


  1. I'm jealous! We don't have anything like it in North Orange County, that's for sure!

    I might have to send my husband that way the next time he has business up there. (I may just have to go with him!)

  2. I'm generally pretty content with where I live, but whenever I read about Powell's.... phhhf. Someone was going to mail me the bookstore map once!

  3. I've heard of Powell's, too, and longed to go there! You're so lucky...

  4. Yeah, it IS pretty cool. I've been going to their Beaverton, Oregon store lately as it's just a lot more easily accesible for me. Doesn't have quite all the ambiance around it location wise, but is STILL pretty much the same inside, just on one pretty large l level.