Powell City of Books The largest independent library in the world

The Powell Library is a family business, but passion for books, passed from son to father, not the other way around, Michael Powell, who started the first bookstore with a $3,000 loan in 1970 in Chicago.


He received the loan in the name of his father Walter Powell, who was joining his son over the summer to work at the library.


The father loved the field so much that he returned to Portland and opened his own bookstore the following year, Michael soon joined his father, and now the store is run by Michael’s daughter, Emily.


Miriam Sontz, chief executive of the library, says: “We have about a million books in our flagship store in Book City. I don’t think any other library has an approximating number of books. But number is not the most important thing, we have selected a million of the best books. This is an achievement, and because we sell some of them every day, we need to constantly select the next best books to put on our shelves.”

Located on the pearly side of West Burnside Street, it is a collection of over a million new and used books, a book-lover paradise, with over 3,500 different sections and a relaxing World Cup café. A bookstore occupies more than an entire city building and one needs a map to explore the store. Whether you are a student who is very much of a book or not, the store is worth a visit.


The library includes 9 rooms each with a name (golden, pink, and violet). The place is reminiscent of Tarantino’s “Warehouse Dogs.” As in Strand, and other libraries with enormous space, the idea of quantity overshadows the idea of quality and content. It has at least 1.5 million books. To wander inside, visitors are provided with a guided map, indicating various places, including the “rare book room”, which contains volumes from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also guides them to the Café, which gives them a period of rest and take a breath.


Because the Powell Library in Butland is the most popular, due to its size (perhaps really the largest in the world) it has become a tourist attraction, and a destination for many tourists coming from different regions of this huge country.


The Powell Library established its online presence in 1993, starting with email access and file transfer protocol (FTP), and has since expanded to include as a traditional e-commerce site. Their website was created in 1994, and Paul’s library contributed to Amazon’s significant growth.

Retail and online sales inventory is more than four million new, used, rare and out-to-print books. The Powell Library buys about 3,000 used books a day, with revenues of $41.8 million.


In October 2010, the Powell Library announced that it had purchased 7,000 books from Ann Rice’s library, and starting in May 2012, the Powell Library began printing books on demand.

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