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Powell's City of Books

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, USA

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Varies

Find it on google maps

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit Powell's City of Books in Portland during the week if you can; the weekends can get quite crowded making it harder to browse at your leisure. Also, check out the Rare Book Room for some unique finds, but be aware that it has limited hours different from the rest of the store."

What is Powell's City of Books?

Powell's City of Books is an iconic bookstore located in the heart of Portland, Oregon. Known for its extensive collection, it's a veritable mecca for readers and writers alike, providing an eclectic mix of new and used books that span every imaginable genre. With its block-sized footprint and multiple levels, it's one of the largest independent new and used bookstores in the world.

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When you step inside, you'll find color-coded rooms filled with books that could fill every nook of your home and then some. From the rare book room, where you can peruse first editions and signed copies, to the coffee shop where locals huddle over novels, it's more than just a shopping destination—it's a cultural hub. Regular events and author readings make it a community gathering spot, showcasing Portland's literary charm.

History of Powell's City of Books

The story of Powell's begins in 1971 when Walter Powell took over a small bookstore and then later opened his own store, Powell's Books, on a former car dealership lot. His vision was to create a space that combined used and new books, giving them equal value on the shelves. This radical idea at the time helped to establish an inclusive atmosphere that has been a huge part of its success.

In the 1980s, Walter's son, Michael Powell, took the reins and further expanded the business, solidifying its place in Portland's fabric. Under his leadership, the bookstore grew in size and reputation, becoming the Powell's City of Books we know today. It has been a haven for book lovers and has withstood the test of time, including the shift towards electronic readers and online shopping, which has challenged many traditional bookstores.

Why is Powell's City of Books Important?

Powell's City of Books is important not just because it's a large bookstore, but also for what it represents. It embodies the spirit of Portland: independent, quirky, and deeply invested in the community. The bookstore has had a hand in fostering a vibrant local literary scene and is a testament to the city's commitment to supporting local businesses and cultural institutions.

Moreover, Powell's has had a significant impact on the literary world by supporting small press and independent authors, and by creating a space where books from multiple origins coexist. It's this ethos of inclusivity and support for the written word that makes Powell's a literary landmark and a beacon for bibliophiles around the world.

Things to Do & See at Powell's City of Books

At Powell's City of Books, you're invited to get lost in the stacks, which hold over a million books. You'll want to grab a store map at the entrance because it's incredibly easy to wander from room to room, discovering a vast array of topics. The store is divided into nine color-coded rooms, each housing different categories of books, making it an adventure to find your next great read.

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Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Rare Book Room, where true treasures await behind a locked gate—only accessible upon request. Attend one of the many events held weekly which can range from book signings to readings, and book clubs to writing workshops. You might even want to capture a moment in the photobooth or enjoy a cup of coffee in the café while you pore over a freshly discovered find.

  • Blue Room: Dive into an ocean of literature, poetry, and classics.
  • Gold Room: Explore a vast selection of sci-fi, fantasy, and graphic novels.
  • Rose Room: Get inspired in the children's section, pouring over stories and educational books.
  • Coffee Shop: Take a break and reflect on your reading choices while enjoying locally sourced treats.

Whether you're a local who's seen the evolution of Powell's over the decades or a first-time visitor, you'll feel an instant connection to a community that values the written word and the shared experiences that only a place like this can bring.

Frequently asked questions

What is Powell's City of Books?

Powell's City of Books is an iconic bookstore located in Portland, Oregon. It is considered one of the largest independent new and used bookstores in the world, occupying an entire city block.

How many books are available at Powell's City of Books?

Powell's City of Books boasts an inventory of over a million books, ranging from new and used titles across various genres and subjects.

Where is Powell's City of Books located in Portland?

Powell's City of Books is situated in the Pearl District on the edge of downtown Portland, at the corner of NW 10th Avenue and W Burnside Street.

Can I sell my used books to Powell's City of Books?

Yes, Powell's City of Books purchases used books from the public. They have specific guidelines and times for buying books, so it's recommended to check their website for current details.

Does Powell's City of Books host any events?

Yes, Powell's City of Books frequently hosts a variety of events including author readings, book signings, and discussions. Their event calendar is available on their official website.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, USA

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Varies

Find it on google maps