When you have friends who love books, you inevitably have to look at what bookstores and libraries are available when you travel. Even though I have never been a big book lover, I do enjoy reading and learning new things. I needed to make sure I could get a few books, or at least try to get some books, that would help me learn more about beer and about making it as well. I found out that Powell’s City of Books has made it into at least a few Top 10 lists of bookstores one must visit, and since I was in Portland, I figured I had to stop by for an hour or so.
Being my first time in Portland, I was at a loss as to where to go to find this legendary bookstore. I passed it a few times in the morning, but at those times I was a little too busy doing other things to go in. When I finally did want to go to Powell’s, I ended up getting lost trying to find it. Thankfully Powell’s City of Books takes up an entire city block, so as long as you are in the area you will definitely find it.
Powell’s City of Books actually takes up 4 different buildings that are connected to each other. Trying to find your way around the entire bookstore is an ordeal if you don’t know the layout very well. For me, it was really difficult to know where each section was, and I was really exhausted by the end. The bookstore is more alike a library where you actually buy the books rather than taking them home for a few days. I entered from what looked like a historical building entrance. Most photos show a single story building that I can only guess was the original building for Powell’s.
When I went in, I was at the main cash register. There was a line for people to sell their old used books and Powell’s would resell it. If you are familiar with Book-off in Japan, it was exactly the same. The only difference is that instead of focusing on reselling used books, they were selling mostly new books from what I could see. I had a hard time to find any used books in the shop, or at least the used books that I wanted to buy. I ended up only buying a single book, but I was happy to look around the shop.
Powell’s City of Books really shouldn’t be a tourist destination, but it really is. I really enjoyed going there and looking at all of the different books. It isn’t always cheaper than Amazon or other retail shops, but visiting the shop is an adventure in and of itself. I really loved the building and although I was a bit lost at times, I really loved how everyone seemed to love the place. It really felt like books are the one thing that everybody of every race, age, and sex can get together and just enjoy it. There was no one judging you if you were picking up a trashy romance or a “dumb” comic book. The only thing that mattered was that you loved books.