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Archive for the 'Powell’s Anniversary' Category

Ann Patchett: The $200 Impulse Buy

Most bookstores tuck authors away in dismal backrooms or cluttered offices before they read in an effort to:

A) protect the author from getting mobbed too early, or
B) protect the author from the fact that no one has shown up for the reading.

Among the stacks of galleys and paper cups full of day-old coffee, we sign the preorders and lose heart for what is to come.

But everything is different at Powell's. At Powell's they take you to the glassed-in Rare Book Room, a locked room filled with the most desirable treasures in the store — signed first editions and out-of-print wonders. It is a marvel of bibliomania, and it's also smart business. I can't speak for other authors, but I become a serious spendthrift on my book tours. I am lonely and exhausted. Items that I would never dream of buying at home become things I deserve when on tour, which is how I happened to buy a first edition of Dare Wright's dark and depressing masterpiece, The Lonely Doll. I saw it there on a low shelf after I ...

Kevin Wilson: The Antidote for Small Crowds at a Reading

I came to Powell's for the first time fresh off a string of readings where very, very few people came. It was not a surprising occurrence. I am not a famous writer. I did not know anyone on the West Coast. If five people showed up for the reading, I felt lucky.

But people came — lots of people. And after I read, they asked thoughtful, elaborate questions that turned the Q&A into a conversation. People took pictures of me. I did not want to leave the bookstore.

And I realized that, for Powell's, this is an everyday occurrence. It does the estimable job of providing a place for people who love books. It fosters a generous and wide-ranging reading community. It gives us the books we need and highlights the books we will soon need. The staff loves books and the customers love books, and as a writer, this is all you can ask for.

A day later, I read to — not counting the kind and generous bookstore staff — three people, one of whom was dead asleep. It did not make me sad. It simply reinforced what ...

Aimee Bender: A Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Powell's,

Oh, beautiful City of Books, big, full building that is not oppressive but inviting, not dusty but light filled, not faded but brightly colored, not intimidating but warm. The Pearl Room, the surprising staircases, the tall poetry shelves, the ladders. The little YA nook, the rows of cashiers, the amazing remainders, the find after find. You're like the big, old house a kid loses herself inside and never, somehow, gets tired or bored. You're like that big, old house but for adults too. You have a cute cousin on Hawthorne, much littler but with the same good genes.

I was at Whole Foods last year with a Powell's bag for my produce and the checker said something about how you were closing. "What?!" I said, horrified. I drove home in a state. I'm so relieved that she was completely unreliable. Forty-one is great — here's hoping for at least 41 more.

Aimee Bender

An Anniversary Celebration

Powell's was founded in 1971 in a humble downtown storefront on West Burnside. That was 41 years ago; things have changed a bit. Today, Powell's is the largest independent bookstore in the world. That seems worth celebrating!

We've organized four months' worth of anniversary festivities through the end of the year, including special promotions, store events, online specials, and much more. Rogue Brewery is even bottling a special beer just for the occasion. And don't miss the giant block party at the main store downtown on Saturday, August 25, which will kick the whole thing off.

We'll be celebrating here on the Powell's Blog, too. Check back often, as some of our favorite authors will be posting their anecdotes and musings about Powell's. You can post your comments or stories, too, on our anniversary page. Thank you so much for your support for over four decades! We couldn't have done it without you.

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Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at