Powell’s Books: Portland, OR

Visiting Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, the largest used and new bookstore in the world with over four million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books.

Night view of  Powell's City of Books in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon.

Powell’s City of Books
9AM-11PM (Open Daily)
1005 W Burnside St. | Portland, OR 97209 [map]

All traveling bookworms would often find themselves in a bookstore somewhere. I wound up at Powell’s December of 2012 and the different floors and shelves of printed paper on every subject you can think of were overwhelming to say the least. Powell’s Books claims to be the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world with over four million books on their online and retail inventory.

Perusing Robert Ferguson's The Vikings: A History at the City of Books, the flagship location of Powell's Books.

Perusing Robert Ferguson’s The Vikings: A History at the City of Books, the flagship location of Powell’s Books.

I picked up a copy of Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing at Powell’s flagship location in downtown Portland. The former is a great memoir that had me laughing and crying at the same time, the latter is a detailed exploration of the lives of the misunderstood Roma Gypsies in Europe whose history of persecution is largely unknown to most of the world. I highly recommend Bury Me Standing to travelers not only interested in sightseeing but also learning about the history of the places that they visit. I definitely hope to visit Eastern and Central Europe one day. I also noticed a sense of romance in Patti Smith’s retelling of her visits in Paris, a feeling that doesn’t seem to be associated with the famous city by present-day travelers. Is Paris romantic or overrated? Someday I will find out.

Earlier that day, I found one of the chain’s other locations, Powell’s Books for Home and Garden, by accident. It was across from Crossroads Trading on SE Hawthorne Boulevard where I picked up some much-needed winter clothing. I would have welcomed the chance to explore Portland’s neighborhoods further but it was raining for most of the three days that I was there. To find out which Powell’s location is convenient for you, check out Powell’s Locations page.

I didn’t have enough time to visit each of the rooms at the much-larger Powell’s City Of Books packed with over 68,000 square feet of books or covering about 1.6 acres of retail floor space. Powell’s website provides a very enthusiastic and well-written tour of the different rooms at their flagship store and their different offerings.

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