Powell's City of Books

From Academic Kids

Powell's NW 10th & Burnside entrance
Powell's NW 10th & Burnside entrance

Powell's City of Books is a bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and the largest independent bookstore in the United States. It is located on the edge of downtown and the Pearl District, occupying a full city block between NW 10th and 11th Avenues and Burnside and Couch Streets. The "City of Books" is headquarters for a local chain of bookstores which also maintains a growing business in online sales.

Powell's main store is open 365 days a year, and contains over 68,000 ft² of floor space. The inventory for its retail and online sales is over 1 ½ million books, with plans to grow to two million in 2004. [1] (http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=23515)

Powell's sells new, used, and rare books; at its retail stores, it follows the somewhat unusual practice of shelving new and used books side-by-side. It buys thousands of used books a day in order to keep its shelves well-stocked.

Powell's has had an Internet presence dating back to email and ftp-based access for its technical bookstore.[2] (http://www.powells.com/info/details.html) Their website was established in 1994, before Amazon.com, and as of 2004, 40% of Powell's business is conducted online.[3] (http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=23515)

The store was founded by Walter Powell, whose son, Michael Powell, had started a bookstore in Chicago, Illinois (a bookstore still in existence as of 2004, specializing in used, rare, and discounted books, primarily academic and scholarly). Michael Powell soon joined his father in Portland, leading the expansion business to what it is today.

Powell's is a member of the American Booksellers Association.

List of locations

In addition to its "City of Books" location, Powell's Books also has several smaller stores:

Other information

Books from Powell's can be accessed via Wikipedia's ISBN lookup.

Powell's is the sponsor of Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. As of April 2004, Powell's is part of Portland's wireless community, courtesy of Personal Telco.[4] (http://wifinetnews.com/archives/003246.html)

Some of the store's actions have made big news in Portland. When the Oregon Citizens Alliance qualified Ballot Measure 9 in 1992, an anti-gay rights measure, the bookstore actively campaigned against the measure. However, a prolonged labor dispute between Powell's employees and Michael Powell over unionizing the employees tarnished Michael Powell's reputation as a champion of liberal causes.[5] (http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=21783)


  • Tony Hawk: "It's the largest independent bookstore in the world, and it's pretty funky, like the town itself — about as far from Barnes & Noble as you can get!", USAWeekend, May 5, 2003 [6] (http://www.usaweekend.com/03_issues/030504/030504skatepark.html)
  • Ursula Le Guin, on Powell's: the mother monster of bookstores. [7] (http://www.viamagazine.com/weekenders/books03.asp)
  • Ralph Nader, on walking Monday night through Mike Powell's bookstore: "This is what civilization should look like." The Oregonian, January 23, 2002 [8] (http://www.powells.com/info/press.html)
  • Susan Sontag, on Powell's: "the best bookstore in the English-speaking world." [9] (http://www.viamagazine.com/weekenders/books03.asp)

External links


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