Independent Bookstore Breaks into the Web's Elite
Powell's earns a spot alongside iTunes, Netflix, and eBay as one of the 50 best retailers online
December 5, 2005, Portland, OR In its December 2005 edition, Internet Retailer magazine names only one brick-and-mortar bookstore to its list of the 50 best retailers online, not a national chain but Oregon-based Powell's Books.
"Powells.com presents a wealth of material designed to bring customers back to the site," notes the annual Best of the Web report, pointing to in-depth author interviews, original essays, daily book reviews, and 12-minute podcasts starring such luminaries as Salman Rushdie and the rock band Queens of the Stone Age.
Serving web customers since 1994, Powells.com re-launched in July, introducing upgraded search tools, faster page delivery, and a reorganization of the lauded literary content that now draws 70,000 unique visitors to the site each day. Though Powell's does not operate physical stores beyond the greater Portland market, more than ninety percent of its online orders ship to customers outside the state.
Founder Michael Powell credits the site's success to his staff's knack for translating the best qualities of Portland's famous City of Books, a 68,000 square-foot tourist destination in itself. "We want to capture the sense that we are passionate about what we do. We want people to sense they are in a real bookstore buying books from real people."
Internet Retailer agrees that Powell's excels alongside billion-dollar competitors thanks to its clear mission. "No one will ever confuse Powells.com with Amazon.com or other sites that peddle books alongside clothing, electronics, toys, and other merchandise," the magazine's editors explain. "From the personal recommendations of staff members to the ongoing tales of Fup the store cat, Powells.com has the feel of a neighborhood bookstore staffed by avid readers."
In November, Powell's introduced its latest distinguishing feature, a bookseller blog (www.powells.com/blog), hosted by staff members and guest authors. New Yorker magazine columnist Susan Orlean, best known for her novel The Orchid Thief, posted every day last week from Boston.
Read the entire Internet Retailer review of Powells.com here.
An independent bookseller since 1971, Powell's serves the Portland, Oregon, area with four general bookstores and two specialty stores. Its flagship store takes up an entire city block, offering 68,000 square feet of used, new, rare, and out-of-print books. Online since 1994, Powells.com offers the combined inventory of its six retail locations and five warehouses — about four million books in all. The site features exclusive author interviews and essays, as well as a stable of internationally respected book reviewers and content partners. Forbes magazine crowned the site a "Forbes Favorite," applauding its "huge selection of new, used and rare books, all swathed in smart content."
About Internet Retailer Magazine
Launched in early 1999, Internet Retailer's goal has been to cover the Internet retailing revolution as no other publisher does. Year after year they have enhanced their leadership position as the information authority on the application of the Internet to all segments of retailing. Internet Retailer has the largest-circulation magazine and e-mail newsletters in the retailing industry and the only ones serving a multi-channel market that includes major distribution to retail chains, catalogers and other direct merchants, web-only retailers and branded manufacturers which use the web to merchandise directly to consumers.