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Features | A Trip to Powells Books - Largest Independent Bookstore in the World

Walking to Powells Books is like walking to bibliophile heaven.

Back in 2017 I went on a trip to Oregon for two weeks with my mum, and one of the things I had to do while I was in the area was visit Powells Books. I ended up going twice. Just this past month I returned to Oregon for a shorter trip, but a trip that involved Powells all the same. 

So what exactly is Powells Books? 

Powell's Books is an independent bookseller serving Portland, Oregon, since 1971. We've grown to employ over 530 people across five Portland-area stores and, and our book inventory exceeds two million volumes. In spite of our substantial size and reach, we remain grounded by our company's core values, which have guided us through the ups and downs of the bookselling industry. Each and every employee's love of books drives us forward. - Webiste
That already sounds impressive, right? Right. But there's more. Powells Books takes up an entire city block in Portland, and has multiple stories, some of which are split level. Each genre is divided up into a different room, and each room is assigned a colour. For example, the Young Adult and Childrens books were in the Rose Room, the fantasy in the Gold Room etc etc. Then each aisle has a number, so if you've searched for something on the computer you can find the shelf that the book will be on very easily. They even have a fascinating Rare Books rooms which you can go and check out for free. There are some beautiful old books in there!

Alongside the new books, they also sell used books, and if you're lucky, you may just find a signed copy. I managed to score myself a paperback copy of Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch for just USD $5 because it was used, but the quality was like-new. I also discovered a signed copy of In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (signed by Doctorow).

In between the books there are other fun items such as board games, stationery, cards, mugs, scarves, Powells memorabilia, and so much more! You could spend hours and hours in among the shelves at Powells and never want to leave. Alas, we could only afford to spend about 1.5 hours in there but we managed to walk away with way too many books (is there such a thing?!) and the slight worry that we'd have to somehow get them all back to New Zealand with only 23kg luggage allowance each (spoiler: it ended up being a-okay!).

If you're ever even in Oregon somewhere (heck, if you're in nearby Washington State!),  you have to go to Powells. It's truly incredible and I can't wait to go back!

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