Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Fabulous Powell's of Portland

My husband and I spent this past weekend in beautiful Portland, Oregon. The weather was glorious, the food delicious, the coffee ... well amazing of course - but most of all, we had the opportunity to visit the legendary Powell's of Portland flagship store.

Founded by Walter Powell in 1971, Powell's is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world and covers a staggering 68,000 square feet! It has to be seen to be believed. Luckily, the store provides maps.

With big-box bookstores flailing it is thrilling to know that Powell's continues to thrive.

I couldn't begin to describe the sheer volume and diversity on offer within those walls but they have EVERYTHING. From rare and out-of-print books to international bestsellers and little-known books with obscure titles. Powell's has also embraced modern technology with a brisk online business and a fancy Espresso Book Machine (which is actually quite cool).

There are a ton of events covering a wide range of subjects from hosting writing workshops to author signings. Unfortunately, we were not there for the much anticipated appearance of E.L James signing her erotic Fifty Shades Trilogy. Say whatever you want about the subject matter and quality of writing, "Fifty Shades of Grey" ranks as the fastest selling paperback of all time. I wish my series did as well (!)  although that will never happen since my protagonist Vicky Hill remains pure and unsullied and that's the way my editor likes it.

As I waited in line for some delicious World Cup Coffee my eyes wandered over to a large blackboard inscribed with one of Carl Sagan's well-known quotes.

"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are printed lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

Don't you just love that? Let's keep real books alive.

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

I will always love real books best. I was in Powell's once. Terrific place.