How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
I take the pallets of new books that we get each week from various publishers and distributors, and I scan each book to make sure it’s not damaged, confirm that what we’ve gotten is what we ordered, and mark it into inventory. Then, at the end of each day, my coworkers and I put all of the received books onto carts and send them to the stores for purchase.
Last book you loved:
by Alma Katsu. It is an incredibly engaging, character-focused, historical fiction and horror novel that I couldn’t put down.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
From a very early age my face was either in a book, or my head was in the clouds. Whenever I wasn’t reading or watching movies, I was usually writing stories of my own and drawing pages of comics with my colored pencils. As everyone else in my schools got older and decided to be nurses, police officers, engineers, etc., I realized the only thing that I could ever be happy doing was making stories of my own — which is why Powell’s is a dream job for me while I figure that out. It’s the ultimate research source and the perfect place to be surrounded by like-minded people.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I worked at Book Soup in West Hollywood, “Bookseller to the Great & Infamous!” It’s a lovely little rock-and-roll bookstore on Sunset Blvd., at the edge of Beverly Hills. I got to interact almost daily with celebrities of all kinds, which for a guy straight out of a little farming town in Alabama was a huge culture shock and an unforgettable experience.
What is the best part of your job?
Opening the new release boxes and seeing what cool and interesting things are going to be hitting the shelves before everyone else does.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
It may be kind of cheating to say, but the Coffee Room in Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. It’s the perfect spot to get a lot of work done while surrounded by thousands of books, and only a few streets away from a block of food trucks and a big stone church that I like to sit by to clear my head.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
From a very early age my face was either in a book, or my head was in the clouds.
There are so many types of books and writing styles that it’s hard to narrow down, but what sells me on a book in any genre is excellent characterization, where I feel like I could interact with the characters in the real world, and the feeling you get when reading that the author truly enjoyed the process of creating, that they put a piece of themselves into the words that can never be replaced.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
It’s impossible to deny that digital is the way everything is going, but no matter how much bookstores fade away, there’s still going to be a huge group of people who prefer having that physical copy in their hands, feeling the pages flip between their fingers, and smelling that used book smell (some people may find that weird, but I know I’m not the only one who loves it).
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
When I was a kid, I would almost exclusively read Goosebumps
books and books from A Series of Unfortunate Events
. They were fascinating to me and nothing else I tried ever really grabbed me like they did. Unfortunately, that’s because there weren’t a lot of horror books for kids back then. It wasn’t until I got a little older and picked up the original Dracula
for the first time (my first “adult” novel) that a new door was opened for me. I’ve never been the same since.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury. Second book that changed my life and expanded my mind in ways nothing else has. I read it every year.