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Bookstores, magazines and other reading materials, available in Portland

Portland is a great book town. It's like we're a major city (which we're not) or a college town (which we're not). It makes no logical sense, but there you go. A few reading-addicts give you our favorite picks.


Multnomah County Library

The library is the best bet, of course, for books. Hanna writes: "I'm a total library user..." use the online catalog to reserve books, "and have them send the books to your branch". (sorry, telnet geeks: fastcat has been phased out with the new [fall 2005] library catalog software). They will even deliver them to your home (but then you are moving out of the cheapest category). Maybe they don't have that cutting edge piercing book you've been drooling over, but it may well be there next week.

Their periodicals section is pretty extensive, though you may have to wait for popular magazines, and while you can frequently take home back issues, many magazines seem to have no back issues at all. But they do have a photocopier.

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November 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)


The best way to seriously check out your reading material is over coffee. But you knew that already. Therefore, it is imperative to go to a place with a cafe. Let me recommend Powells, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the like...

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November 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)



336 SW 3rd Ave
(503) 228-2391

Cameron's is much smaller, smellier and scarier (in a mildewy sort of way) than Periodicals Paradise. They have a good supply of recent magazines, and sell them at a fraction of the cover price, unless it's old or valuable (natch). They also have books.

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November 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

reading matters: new & used books and magazines in Portland


Cameron's 336 SW 3rd, 228-2391 map ~ fareless square: MAX Cameron's is much smaller, smellier and scarier (in a mildewy sort of way) than Periodicals Paradise. They have a good supply of recent magazines, and sell them at a fraction of the cover price, unless it's old or valuable (natch). They also have books.

Title Wave
216 NE Knott, a block from the Dishman Pool, 248-5021.
map ~ Albina: 4 Fessenden, 6 MLK Jr. Blvd, 33 Fremont, 40 Mocks Crest
The Title Wave is "the outlet for library books the library no longer needs. It's got the cheapest prices on used books in town + they are constantly getting more in + it's on like 3 bus routes and a bike route. What more could you ask for????", writes Diana.

cheap and not so cheap

23rd Avenue Books 1015 NW 23rd, 224-5097 map ~ NW/Nob Hill: Portland Streetcar, 15 NW 23rd Avenue, 17 NW 21st - St Helens Road, 77 Broadway-Halsey Emily writes: "This is the quintessential pleasant bookstore catering to the upscale reader. They have great guests (including David Sedaris) and a very good selection of contemporary literature and non-fiction, decent magazine rack, and the nice chewy weeklies: NY Review of Books, NYT Book Review. Of the genre sections, I have perused the science fiction/fantasy shelves and find the selection uninspired; but, if you're after the latest novels, they're probably in stock or easily ordered. If you are going to buy a new book anyway, why not give Powell's or Borders a miss and support a neighborhood bookstore like this one?"

Barnes & Noble
Lloyd Center; 6 others
map ~ Lloyd Center/fareless square: MAX, 8 NE 15th, 9 Broadway, 10 NE 33rd
"Sometimes, I must confess, I buy magazines at Barnes & Noble which has an admirable selection", writes Magdalen™. The fact that they have a coffee bar, and a fair amount of chairs, certainly aids in window-shopping.

708 SW 3rd, 220-5911; several others
map ~ fareless square/Yamhill District: MAX
I used to live near the original Borders, yep, an intelligent store with an intelligent staff. Now, it and all the other Borders feel the same as any chain store. Which wouldn't be so bad except I remember how great a bookstore Borders once was.
They do have a decent magazine selection, they do have chairs here and there, and they do have an overpriced cafe.

In Other Words
8 NE Killingsworth St, (503) 232-6003
~ Albina get there via trimet
Hanna, Diana, and I frequent In Other Words - Books & Resources for Women. Diana writes: "They have great special order service...there's no charge, and you can order a book months before a publisher actually releases it. Don't forget to give them your name & phone number - even if you aren't ordering any books. They'll track how many books you buy & give out discounts on a regular basis. One of the few small bookstores open late, IOW stays open late even on Saturdays. Readings and other events can be crowded in the small space, but they have monthly open mike readings, lesbian book clubs, and other cool things pretty regularly."

Kinokuniya Bookstore
in the incredibly huge Uwajimaya (10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 641-6240).
Beaverton: 54 Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 61X Marquam Hill - Beaverton
Kinokuniya Bookstore stocks Japanese media of all sorts, books, videos (including english subtitled), comic books, and cds.

New Renaissance Books
1338 NW 23rd, 224-4929
map ~ NW/Nob Hill: Portland Streetcar, 15 NW 23rd Avenue, 17 NW 21st - St Helens Road, 77 Broadway-Halsey
Mirabai took me to task for omitting New Renaissance: "They rival Powell's for selection, yet give personalized service with a clue that borders and buns and noodles will never have. Used books, returns, and free, hot tea make this atmosphere an ideal for indie readers, not to mention the cool nic nacs you won't find in other bookstores where the buyers live in new york."

Portland State Bookstore
1715 SW 5th Ave.,
(503) 226-2631
If you don't have enough textbooks in your life, PORTLAND STATE BOOKSTORE might be able to help you find more. They also stock art supplies and software, as well as the usual student supply of greeting cards, snacks, paper, paperbacks, and magazines.

Reading Frenzy
921 SW Oak
(503) 274-1449
"READING FRENZY is great for alternapress and 'zines, but that whole scene can get overwhelming (and it does feel like a scene, rather than just a little pile of reading materials)", writes Magdalen™. Even so, Chloe's charm and practically limitless memory of what you got last time will conversely embarrass and thrill you. They don't stock everything (who could?), but for new alternative comix, zines, and microscopically small publishers, RF puts Portland on the map.

Rich's Cigar Store
820 SW Alder
(503) 228-1700
Certainly this is most decadent & dangerous place to magazine-shop, which is why I don't go in there very often. So many magazines, and the sweet, sweet smell of pipe tobacco. It just lures the money out of my pocket.

Magdalen™, a journalist and "magazine slut", writes: "I spend more time/money at Rich's Cigar Store downtown and at airport vending stands than at any proper bookstores. Rich's is fab for all manner of fashion rags (including foreign), pop culture, soft mainstream porn, and hobby/consumer-fetish titles."

Wrigley-Cross Books
Now Online Only

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March 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Looking Glass Bookstore

318 SW Taylor
(503) 227-4760
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Looking Glass BookstoreLooking Glass Books, which has been downtown for over 30 years, is moving out. Their last day on Taylor Street will be January 31. The new location will be in Sellwood.

Meanwhile, they're having a big sale. Many sections of the store are marked down. Shop as usual. Avoid panic buying.

I can't even tell you how sad this makes me. It's the only non-chain bookstore in my part of downtown.

Check them out before they move... They're a small store, intelligent staff, great selection in its specialities (Eastern Spirituality meets literary genius -- also SciFi, women's stuff, queer stuff, divination, more), and they have a staff dog. They also stock comix.

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January 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Periodicals Paradise

1928 NE 42nd Ave
located in Hollywood Reruns
(503) 234-6003
get there via trimet
find a bike route

PP is the Godhead of used magazine stores -- they have more magazines, used books, catalogs, etc. than you can shake a stick at. It is very dangerous. Magdalen™, a fellow omnizine addict, says, "I no longer allow myself to enter Periodicals Paradise because my magazine addiction combines in a very frightening manner with my vintage-anything mentality, and I want to pore over magazines for the rest of the week..."

The other day, someone asked me if PP was still around. Oh yeah, of course it is, I replied, but then the next time I went down Hawthorne, it was gone, with no sign that it had ever been there. A couple days later, I'm walking around in Hollywood, and there it is, part of an antiques store.

It's in the old JoAnn Fabrics store, and the Paradise Group, as they call themselves, dominates the store. There's Pine Paradise and Paradise Past on the main floor, and Book Paradise (mostly paperbacks) on the Mezzanine (the floor on the way to the basement. Hmmm. What is that called?), and finally Periodicals Paradise in the basement.

They still have a massive collection of old magazines, $1 each unless marked otherwise.

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January 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3)


Powell's BooksPowell's City on Books
1005 W Burnside
(503) 228-4651
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Branches also on Hawthorne, and in Beaverton.
Powell's of course gets some of my business, if for no other reason that they have that damn great database online, that tells me what they have in stock where and at what price. Shit! You get to combine the thrill of the internet hunt with the actual shopping experience. Pretty damn cool.

It is the largest game in town. Okay, Powells is the largest new and used book store in the world (if you'd like a virtual tour, check this out.). And all those new and used books are shelved together, and the staff is handsome and brainy.

People tend to love or hate the place. Diana loves it for the kids section: "Where else can you get Shel Silverstein used? I get lost in the picture book section for hours. They have everything from cutesy cardboard Sandra Boynton books (But not the Hippopotamus) for your favorite toddler to subversive alterna-books for slightly older kids (The Ballad of the Pirate Queens, a picture book romanticizing the famous female pirates Anne Bonney & Mary Read) to the tail tweaking, myth-defying cute kids books that are really for adults (The true story of the Three Little Pigs by Alexander Wolf - who claims he just had a bad cold & was sneezing hard, but since the roof fell in & killed the pigs, he couldn't let the meat go to waste, could he????)"

Magdalen™ writes: "For actual books? sigh, yeah, I frequent POWELL'S Monopoly of Used Books. Powell's used to scare me, but now I like wandering around lost in there, or making a trip to Powell's a social occasion with friends, reading to each other from self-help books about psychopharmaceuticals or making scathing remarks about the horrible paper they use in most of the blank books and diaries. Their magazine section is really bad. Don't even bother."

Powell's Technical Books
Powell's Technical Books 33 NW Park Ave (503) 228-3906 googlemap get there via trimet find a bike route PTB is the best place to cruise geeks, ever. Great selection, new and used, too.

Powell's Books for Cooks and Gardeners
3747 SE Hawthorne
(503) 235-3802
Judy recommends Powell's Books for Cooks and Gardeners on Hawthorne: "I have been able to find very specific books there such as Classic Liquours and 100 Tips for Vegetable Gardening in the NW -- much more convenient than wandering through the big Powells. Plus you can browse all the picture books and nobody bothers you."

Powell's Books at PDX
(503) 249-1950
Another tiny little store. But like other shops and services at PDX, they charge street prices, and they have new and used books, plus all sorts of gifty stuff (that's new).

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October 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)


Powell's offers the lion's share of readings in town, but other stores also offer readings, and quite a few of them don't have web sites....

Stores' readings listings

In the Press

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