Powell’s City of Books
An iconic name in Portland retail—as well as among readers who have never been to the city—Powell’s has multiple locations on both sides of the Willamette. The downtown store remains the one best suited for visitors to explore, with miles of used reads, a tightly curated selection of books from the knowledgeable staff, and every Portland-themed book you could hope to find under one roof. A renovation in 2014 opened up the space and made it feel less like a warehouse of dusty stacks, an improvement that bodes well for the future of the business. Author appearances, even those at the satellite branches, are some of Portland’s best events for interesting discussions.
By Alexander Basek, AFAR Local Expert
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
A Church for Bibliophiles
At a time when it seems like another brick-and-mortar bookstore disappears every day, it is really refreshing to witness the throngs of readers crowding into Powell's Books in Portland on a sunny Saturday. When you go, if you're a word nerd like myself, give yourself at least two hours of browsing time. Trust me, you'll need it.
By Julia Cosgrove, AFAR Staff
Powell’s City of Books, Portland, Oregon
“This is not really a bookstore at all; it’s a vast public amenity—almost a civic space. When I was attending college in Portland, I used it more than the library. There were many days when I arranged to meet a friend there, and we just didn’t leave.” —Fred Dust
By Afar Magazine, AFAR Staff
Buy a Book at Powell's
Going to Powell's City of Books in Portland's Pearl District is a bit like finding yourself back in the college library. It's so big that books are categorized not by shelf but by room (Purple Room, Green Room, Pink Room, and so on) and you keep coming across young people slumped on the floors of the book stacks, their legs splayed in front of them, their eyes focused on an improving tract. Portlanders are rightly proud of Powell's and its ongoing ability to stay open when so many bookstores are falling victim to Amazon. It took only one trip to fall in love; by the second, we were making completely unnecessary purchases (including merchandised soda) just to make sure we were doing our bit to keep it alive. Go, browse, read, buy. There's no way you can go into the USA's largest independent bookstore and fail to find something you like. That's a promise.
By Emma John, AFAR Local Expert
Public art found across the street from Powell's. Powell's bookstore, a three story bookstore that covers a city block, marks the entrance to The Pearl District, a former warehouse neighborhood, transformed into chic loft apartments, shops, bars and restaurants.
By Katy Bryce
A True City of Books
I was thrilled to spend time walking around Powell's, potentially the most famous bookstore in the U.S. The store takes up an entire city block, and book lovers can plan to spend half a day in there. The only thing I was a bit disappointed by was their used-book selection. I prefer to buy used when possible and they didn't have as much as I anticipated, and what I did find used was priced fairly high. Still, the experience of being in a store that size is incredible, and the selection is unlike any other I've ever seen!
By Erica House
Spend at least 4 hours....great place for out of print and older books!
1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, USA
Sun - Sat 9am - 11pm