Powell’s Books

Every town has a store that everyone who visits must go to.  It’s a rule.  If you’re going to build a town and people are going to come visit it, there must be at least one retail establishment that everyone wants to go to while they’re there.  I don’t know what this place is for a lot of towns I’ve been to, but I know it’s there.  In Portland, Powell Books is the must-see tourist store (although it seems to have a lyal local following too, which has to help financially).

I used to think the OSU library was enormous.  Towers and towers of books.  I don’t know if a city block of book is larger or not, but it sure feels bigger.  When you walk into Powell’s, you have to reference a map with a color-coded key that tells you where different types of books are.  I guess you don’t have to reference it, really.  But, having spent a considerable amount of time wandering around looking for something, I strongly advise it.

Once you figure out which wing of the building the book you’re looking for resides in, you still must navigate the building that corresponds to that selection to find it.  It’s one of those bookstores that makes you understand why bookstores have librarians on had to find books you’re looking for and direct you to it.

There was a time when I could spend an entire day wandering around a book store.  These days, only the Apple store could keep me occupied that long.  Instead of lingering among books that smell like they’ve been lingering far longer, I have gravitated to the electronic version of books.  Given that I carry an iPad and iPhone with me virtually everywhere I go, it seems like a better use of the products I already own to double up the value of my investment.

Besides, who wants to haul more than 1 big dusty volume from the 18th century or earlier?

We are at Powell’s Books with our friends from Seattle today.  They have never been inside before, so we suddenly feel like tour guides.  We step inside and consult the map.  We point to different sections of the store.  My friend wants one particular book.  she asks for assistance to find it.  It’s located right next to where we’re standing.  We go get in line, check out, and leave.  We walked out without remembering to take them through the entire building.  Some tour guides!