An interview with Emily Powell, owner of Powell's Books

Originally published at: An interview with Emily Powell, owner of Powell's Books | Boing Boing


I don’t remember the last time I visited the store in Portland, but they are my main go-to when it comes to a books online.

Couple years ago, pre-pandemic, I ran into an instragram account of someone, a former Powell’s employee, who felt really betrayed by Powells, they had some serious grievances. Made me pause my happy thoughts about this hip, west coast indie bookstore.

One last thought… bookstores are cool, but so are public libraries, even more so.


One of the things I miss most about my 35+ years living in Portland. I have found no books place place that comes anywhere close to Powell’s.

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The last time I went to Portland, I wanted to visit Powell’s but I didn’t want to have to lug a heavy bag of books home with me, so I just went around Powell’s noting the books I wanted to buy and then mail-ordered them when I got home. Also works if you want to buy from Powell’s but can’t justify a trip to Portland.

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Ah man, spent so many quiet hours as an angsty teen in there in the 80’s. Loved it. It’s grown up a bit, with the larger store, the branded merchandise, and the extra locations, but at least you can still find used books!
Never actually knew the family history though, so good post!

We moved to Portland 25 years ago, and we used to take every out-of-town visitor to Powells. The visitors were all bookish, of course, and my pitch was that Powell’s shelved new and used books together!

Of course, so does the internet, alas, alack.

What a maze, occupying a full city block! Visits were such fun topologically. My favorite was an elevator in the middle, at the juncture of three of the block’s original buildings. The elevator car had doors on three sides!

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