Powell’s City of Books

Whether you are visiting Portland for the first time or are a local resident, Powell’s City of Books is a must see. This iconic bookstore takes up an entire block and is considered the largest new and used bookstore in the world. Previously an automotive shop, visitors may find it interesting to look for subtle remnants of the store’s previous occupants.

How it All Began

Initially Powell’s books began in Chicago when Micheal Powell opened a used bookstore in the early ‘70s. It turned out to be a huge success and inspired his father to do the same thing in Portland. Micheal’s father, Walter, quickly outgrew his small space and needed to move to a larger location, so he purchased an automotive shop and converted it into a bookstore. Eventually Micheal joined his father in Portland and they grew the business together.

At the time when Powell’s opened their bookstores, the idea of selling new and used books together was novel and exciting. Reading enthusiasts were enthralled by the idea and the business quickly became successful. Now there are two more locations, one in Portland and another in the neighboring town of Beaverton. The internet has expanded Powell’s reach and patrons can buy and sell books online through Powell’s website.

What Do They Offer?

Simply put, everything. Powell’s offers a variety of genres for children, teens and adults. Board books, mysteries, romance, philosophy, health and wellness, sci-fi and fantasy are all available in new and used options. You’ll even find books specific to the Pacific Northwest. They also offer Zoom webinars with authors. Individuals can be a part of these webinars live or can subscribe to Powell’s YouTube Channel and access them after the event has taken place.

How Do I Sell My Used Books?

You have the option to sell your books online through Powell’s website or in person at their store. Selling online requires you to enter the book’s ISBN in the designated area and then you can start receiving bids. There are very specific guidelines as to what used books will be accepted. Some of the requirements include no rips, stains, highlighting, split spines or previous library books. These are only a few of the requirements, check out their website for the full list. They are very particular, so if you are going to ship your used books make sure they are in prime condition as they cannot be returned even if Powell will not use them.


Powell supports the Oregon Battle of The Books by offering discounts on select titles, allowing school aged children and their families to purchase the books at a lower price. For those not familiar with The Battle of the Books, it is a competition available for students grades 3-12. A different collection of books is chosen for three age groups (grades 3-5; 6-8 & 9-12). Students form teams of 4-6 individuals. They are then expected to read the books and compete in a question and answer forum. Questions can be pulled from any of the books in the list and teams are awarded points based on answering questions correctly. Whichever team accumulates the most points wins.

Whether you are looking for a good book or would just like to sightsee and browse a giant bookstore, Powell’s City of Books will not be a disappointment!

What Else is There to do in Portland?

Check out our post about Voodoo Doughnuts and the Oregon Ballet Theater for more information about another fun attraction in Portland! If you are interested in pest control service and are in the Portland area, check out our page here!

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