Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2004 Issue

Seven Years at Powell's Books

Noimage

none


By then I was pretty sick of being in the office where I had not much chance to play with books and my dream of being a book dealer was fading away. I applied for a job as Assistant Manager of the Technical Book Store and got it. The only trouble was, there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians and after about a year-and-a-half at the Tech Store they decided to thin out the assistant managers. Long about then, we got the two waters dammed up, the lake and river. As if this chaos wasn? enough, the store went online and within no time at all, the store was selling thousands of books over the Net. Just then, a job came open as manager of the Cookbook Store, one of the satellite stores on Hawthorne Avenue in Southeast Portland. I applied and interviewed with about ten others for the job. Sadly, though I came in second in the race to managership; I did not get it. If I had I would probably still be there. By then, we had been in Portland for seven years and the rain was starting to get to us. We decided it was time to move on to warmer, dryer pastures and I bid Powell? a fond farewell. I left with warm, fuzzy feelings about the book business, and though opening my own store was a while away, I had amassed a nice collection of books to start with.

I've now owned my own bookstore in Nevada (warmer and dryer) for six years, and about every two or three years, I go back up to Powell's for a few days and trade books in for more books. There are many of the same guys and gals buying their books as were there when I was there. They buy fewer books now and they pay less for them than they used to. The shelves have a lot more new and remainder books than they previously had, and the feelings of camaraderie and "family" seem much less prevalent than they did when I was there. The store is unionized, which happened amidst much feuding, fussing and tussling right after I left. Perhaps that has something to do with the changes. The clerks are much more polite, but not as much fun as they were when Powell's was a much smaller, less corporate entity. The book buyers tell me that the incredible skills that used to make up their jobs are not nearly as necessary as they were before the computers arrived and that they miss the old days. Then again, don't we all miss the days before the Net?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions