How would you describe your job?
I train a team to receive new books in our warehouse.
Where are you originally from?
Suburban Detroit, Michigan.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I worked at the Barnes & Noble in Royal Oak, Michigan (now closed).
What is the best part of your job?
The friendships created.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
As someone who interacts with publishers, it can be fascinating learning the many different ways people choose to run their businesses. Also, countless interactions with various customer service departments across the country and beyond have allowed me to grow very confident over the phone. If you need your credit card canceled or want to leave your bank, let me know.
What matters to you most about your work?
Making people feel good about their work, and therefore themselves, is what matters to me. As part of the leadership team here at Indy [our Northwest Portland warehouse], I want to make sure we all feel good about trading our time to work for Powell’s Books.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
Reading passages aloud in grade school. I was a very shy boy and somewhat terrified of attention. However, I noticed at an early age that reading aloud was something that came naturally to me. Now I’m a singer and I love attention, so who knows what happened there.
Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Powell’s.
When I’m at Powell’s, I’m usually showing a visitor the store for the first time. I’m most likely to follow them around. I like seeing the store through their eyes.
What was the last book you loved?
Heart of a Dog
by Mikhail Bulgakov.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
For fiction, a story not bound by whatever trendy writing style is popular. There’s only one writer who gets to do that — the first one. Something honest will always win. Not unlike songs, writing must come from a place of honesty to have any real, lasting value. For nonfiction, something daring and outside the box. I like writers who challenge the status quo of modern thought.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
I think people like real things and real experiences. Clicking a button to make a purchase from home is very isolating. If someone doesn’t have a social circle, then going to a store and being around like-minded people can be spiritually replenishing. Certain rooms at Powell’s may feel like home to some people. Each room is unique and has soul and history. You can’t feel that with the cookie-cutter layouts of the big corporate stores. This is part of the reason they failed, and why Powell’s and similar independents around the world are cherished by their communities and visitors.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
Book endorsement quotes. The phrase “tour de force” has no meaning now and it is still overused. These blurbs are mostly uncreative and, in my opinion, useless. I’d like them to go away.
Do you have any odd reading habits?
I like reading on the bus, which is not odd by any means. But when I look around and everyone else is staring at a phone screen, it feels like a protest, which is very satisfying.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Writing and performing music.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
My Belmont balcony at sunset on a warm summer evening. It’s the best show in town.
Do you have an all-time favorite book?
There isn’t one book that I must take with me as I travel through life. I’d trade them all for a moment of pure living. I’m mainly concerned with my own story, I guess. Working for Powell’s has given me a significant chapter of that story. It has been a pleasure to work here.