Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Marquee Says It All


I bought my first books at Powell's in June, 2004, when Mama and I first came to visit my sons, Lamont and Leland. I rode the No. 20 bus after walking over to Burnside from the Benson Hotel, my rolling suitcase in hand. Those books about Eudora Welty and Willie Morris flew home to Mississippi with me on Southwest Airlines. In June, 2006, they rode 2,500 miles back to Portland, in the back of the UHaul truck Leland drove. Right now they're on my 85x32-inch, three-shelf, unfinished pine bookcase in our top floor apartment in Portland's Alphabet District, eleven blocks from where I found them in 2004. About the bookcase, Mama just asked me, "Is that your library?" Brilliant lady.

At, you can find out all sorts of info about Powell's, including the store in the photograph, the City of Books. It takes up the entire city block, bordered by NW 10th and 11th Avenues to the east and west, W. Burnside and NW Couch Streets on the south and north. You're looking at the corner of 10th and Burnside here in the photo I took after work yesterday.

I can't resist giving you a few tidbits of information:

Powell's City of Books is a book lover's paradise, the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland, Oregon and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books. Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. ... Every day at our buyers' counter in the Orange Room, we purchase thousands of used books from the public. Powell's purchases special collections, libraries, and bookstore inventories as well.

A few facts about the City of Books:

68,000 square feet packed with books
we buy 3,000 used books over the counter every day
approximately 3,000 people walk in and buy something every day
another 3,000 people just browse and drink coffee
our parking garage provides space for 40 cars (ok, so there are bigger parking garages)
we stock 122 major subject areas and more than 3,500 subsections
you'll find more than 1,000,000 volumes on our shelves
approximately 80,000 book lovers browse the City's shelves every day, in Portland and via the Internet. So is our mother ship the world's largest bookstore? Heck, it may be bigger than your whole town.


Celine said...

I've never been to Powell's, but I would love to go. Of course, I'd probably by so many books I'd have to sell my house to pay for them all... and then I wouldn't have any place to keep the books. :)

dot said...

Sounds amazing but the picture wouldn't download for some reason. I'll check back again.

Marie said...

Oh that would certainly be my favorite place in Portland. I spent hours and hours in Half Price Books in Austin...... (sigh).

I still spend much time in our biggest bookshop, Sauramps, and in the public library where books are really cheaper :-)

magiceye said...

wow that was interesting...
liked powells tagline very much too!

Anonymous said...

hy the museum it`s grey are you ?

Hyde DP said...

don't tell my wife -- I'd never find her for days if she stepped in here!

GMG said...

The largest used and new bookstore in the world? Impressive!

David said...

Powell's book store is one of the things I really miss from Oregon being on the east coast now. There is NOTHING like it in FL. About three years ago I went to one that bills itself as the largest in FL. It was smaller than two of the used bookstores back home in Eugene and not even close to the size of Powell’s in Portland! Even worse was the quality of the selection, it seemed to be mostly cheap discards, what a disappointment! There is one here in Sarasota that’s not as large as the “largest in FL” but certainly has a better quality selection.

Wendy said...

Hey, this came in handy. I have looked to replace a book that I had lost, and haven't had any luck finding a copy - until NOW! Powell's has one copy in stock (at an outrageous price, I might add). But, I'll be ordering it to return to the person that ask me "have you found that book, yet?". ;)

Neva said...

This will definitely be a place I visit before I die!!!I work in a library and I LOVE books...and coffee.....what a great place this must be.....thanks for sharing.

NorthBayPhoto said...

Great shot and tons of information. I love bookstores. Independent bookstores may be a bit more expensive then chains but they do bring in the eccentric & interesting novels.

Thanks for visiting my NorthBayPhoto blog.

Z said...

I actually mail ordered from Powell's in the late 90s when I lived in the US. Then I started using abebooks online, and sometimes Powell's was competitive, sometimes not. Don't they have a house kitty there or am I thinking of some other place?