As of June 30, 2021, COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Portland and the state of Oregon. With the lift in restrictions comes the opening of some of our favourite bookstores. Even though most of these stores offered contactless delivery options throughout the pandemic, let’s face it, the online experience doesn’t quite compare to the real thing.
There’s nothing like lifting a book off the shelf, opening it up, and getting lost within its pages, allowing the story to whisk your mind away. The beauty of spending time amongst hundreds (or millions – if you’re Powell’s) of books is unmatched.
Whether you’re a Portland resident or here on a trip, these are some of our must-visit independent bookstores in the city.
The world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s Books has been serving quality new, used, rare, and out-of-print books since 1971. This indie chain boasts three locations, two in Portland, and one in nearby Beaverton. Their flagship store, City of Books, contains more than one million books, so you can literally spend days here browsing the shelves.
The selection at Powell’s includes everything from fiction and nonfiction to LGBTQIA+ and graphic novels. They also have a great gift selection with art supplies, calendars, tote bags, and more. An absolute book lover’s paradise, there’s no place like Powell’s.
Founded by Craig Florence, Mother Foucault’s Bookshop is a fantastic used bookstore on SE Morrison Street. The wooden fixtures, carpeting, and dim lighting at Mother Foucault’s make for a cozy and welcoming environment, and the shelves here are just bursting with a curated selection of classic titles, books on philosophy, and original and riveting poetry.
The space also has a piano and stage, where they host their well-known literary events and readings.
Green Bean Books is a fabulous locally owned and operated children’s bookstore in the Alberta Arts District of Portland. They house a wide selection of new and used books for everyone from the newborns to the adults.
Green Bean invites customers to spend some time reading on their little green couch, or outside on their large, flower-filled garden and deck. This indie store offers regular story times in multiple languages, craft stations, summer camps, and author visits. As a bonus, customers may sell or trade books at the store, by appointment, during regular business hours.
They have some fantastic virtual events happening this month. Check out their website for more info.
Art lovers, rejoice! Monograph Bookwerks is an absolutely gorgeous store with a variety of rare and out-of-print books on subjects like Contemporary Art, Architecture, Fashion, and Photography. Opened in 2010 by Oregon born artists John Brodie and Blair-Saxon Hill, Monograph Bookwerks is a great place for artists and the general public to study, explore, and pick up the best art books being published today.
Check out the art and objects section of the store, where you can find everything from paintings, prints, textiles, and studio ceramics.
Opened over 40 years ago in Multnomah Village in Portland, Annie Bloom’s Books carries a broad range of new books across all the genres. Whether you’re looking for fiction, children’s books, travel guides, books on current events, or a cookbook, Annie Bloom’s has you covered.
The staff at this indie bookstore are incredible, ready to answer any query thrown their way. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they can usually order it in and have it waiting for you in just a few days. Keep an eye on their website for info on upcoming virtual and in-store events.
Broadway Books opened in the NE Portland area in 1992, and has been serving up incredible reads ever since. The store is mostly home to new books, with a fantastic selection of the latest bestsellers and award winners. They also carry a range of used books and non-book items such as greeting cards, calendars, and games and puzzles.
The staff at Broadway Books are all bibliophiles, so I definitely recommend checking out their staff picks section. Co-owners Sally McPherson and Kim Bissell have some awesome selections. You never know what you might find.
One of Oregon’s most well-known comic shops, Bridge City Comics offers a wide selection of new comics, new and used graphic novels, local comics, collectors items, and apparel. Whether you’re into Dark Horse, DC Comics, Image Comics, or Marvel, you’ll find it at Bridge City. What I love about this place is that they highlight smaller, independent publishers.
Bridge City has an awesome graphic novel reading club that meets on the second Thursday of each month where comic lovers can get to know each other and talk in depth about the latest books they’ve been reading. This place offers a subscription service as well, ensuring you never miss an issue.
Another fantastic comic store, Floating World Comics opened its doors in 2006. They receive new comics, appealing to all ages, every Wednesday with genres such as superhero, drama, crime, horror, sci-fi, and action and adventure.
Floating World is also an indie publisher and has published more than 60 comics, graphic novels and art monographs.
Wallace Books is located in the heart of Portland’s Sellwood/Westlandmore neighbourhood. It’s a treasure trove of new and used books, with the shelves practically bursting with everything from the latest best sellers, to the rarest hard-to-find, out-of-print books.
The selection here includes everything from fiction and nonfiction to LGBTQ+ and graphic novels. They don’t have an online store but do accept orders through their Facebook page, and are finally open again after being closed due to COVID-19. Hurray!
Longfellow Books is a great independent bookstore located in the heart of Downtown Portland. They sell both new and used books, with fantastic offerings of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, graphic novels, and kids books. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it at Longfellows.
The staff here are incredibly knowledgeable about books, and are always glad to answer questions. Checking out their staff picks section is a must!
Portland’s oldest children’s bookstore, A Children’s Place opened its doors more than forty years ago, and has been helping to raise little readers ever since. Despite all the expansions and relocations over the years, this place holds the same values as it did back when founders Lynn Kelly and Jan Bruton opened the original store on Broadway in 1974.
A Children’s Place offers a great frequent shopper program and teacher partner discount, where teachers and librarians can save 20% on books.