The largest bookstore in the world and an institution in Portland since 1971, Powell's Book Store anchors an entire city block in the popular Pearl District, succeeding in its widely advertised mission to be an independent bookstore "that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books." Yet "fill" hardly describes this jam-packed, 68,000 square feet bursting with books on everything from the philosophy of Kirkegaard to the Twilight novels.
Powell's is a series of nine color-coded rooms separated by subject, making the maze-like store easy to navigate without fear of getting lost – unless, that is, you really want to. In that case, feel free to spend hours aimlessly wandering the seemingly endless book store that despite its popularity is usually crowd-free.
No topic goes unrepresented at Powell's, and the experience is complete with a cozy reading room and café, as well as convenient underground parking. Signed books, rare editions, as well as one museum-esque room dedicated to precious books (original copies of George Orwell's essays, for example) are easy to find for everyone, including first time visitors. And if the downtown location doesn't satiate your appetite, there are other Portland locations to look into. Portland's hip Hawthorne district has two on the same street – one a condensed version of the headquarters, the other specializing in home and garden. There is also a Powell's Technical Books downtown, offering extensive science, math, and technology collections.
Worshippers of all things literature are in luck: Powell's holds book groups, panels, speakers and book signings often, with an extensive calendar online as well as in print (just ask for one from an employee).