Powell’s Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world, and as such, has become my ultimate destination for wine books. Powell’s is more than a book store though, it is a “City of Books” (really, it’s so ridiculously big that they had to color code the different sections of the store).
Powell’s opened in 1971, and is currently being run by its third generation of Powell, Emily Powell. The store takes in about 35,000 used books a week, and has a rare book room that features an original copy of the Lewis and Clark Journals in incredible condition for $356,000.
I am taken on a tour of the store by Powell’s Community Liaison Bruce Burkhardt, and he feels that Portland has a thriving literary scene “unlike any other”. The store regularly hosts author readings, and he shows me a pillar inside the store that has been signed by many of the authors that have come through.
Bruce regularly gives store tours to children from local schools, and it is not uncommon for these kids to come back years later still talking about the experience. Powell’s also donates around 55,000 books to local schools as part of a summer reading program.
As for wine books, no bricks and mortar store I’ve come across can touch it. A whole isle is devoted to wine books, including many rare and out of print books at very reasonable prices. Today I picked up a book on the history of Lafite-Rothschild printed in 1968 for EIGHT DOLLARS! This is the real deal folks, and no debit card is safe.
For those people who can’t make it to Portland, Powell’s also has an elaborate website through which you can buy books much like you would on Amazon.com, though I prefer Powell’s for older, used books as you aren’t dealing with flakey sellers. Check out Powell’s site, you won’t be disappointed!