Powell's Books is a chain of bookstores in Portland, Oregon and its surrounding metropolitan area. Powell's headquarters, dubbed Powell's City of Books, claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Powell's City of Books is located in the Pearl District on the edge of downtown and occupies a full city block between NW 10th and 11th Avenues and between W. Burnside and NW Couch Streets. It contains over 68,000 square feet (6,300 m2), about 1.6 acres of retail floor space.The inventory for its retail and online sales is over four million new, used, rare and out-of-print books.Powell's buys around 3000 used books a day.
Powell's was founded by Walter Powell in 1971. His son, Michael Powell, had started a bookstore in Chicago, Illinois, in 1970 which specialized in used, rare, and discounted books, primarily of an academic and scholarly nature. In 1979, Michael Powell joined his father in Portland, right after his father lost its lease; within a year, they found the location that became its current headquarters. Michael bought the bookstore from his father in 1982. A travel bookstore was established in 1985 on Pioneer Courthouse Square, and others followed, one a year for the next few years by the early 1990s, Powell's bookstores were part of the resurgence of the independent bookstore, which collectively made 32 percent of book sales in the U.S The travel store closed in 2004.
Powell's established its Internet presence in 1993, beginning with email and FTP-based access to its technical bookstore; it has since expanded to incorporate fiction and other genres as a traditional ecommerce site. Their website was established in 1994, before Amazon.com, and has contributed substantially to the chain's recent growth.