Gloomy doesn’t begin to describe the feel in Portland, especially in the late fall and winter. The city of roses averages 222 days of cloud cover each year. So what better city than Portland to have upwards of 10 independent bookstores?
As Portland continues to grow into an actual metropolitan area small independent operations—especially for print books—are peering into a foggier future than ever. But little do most shoppers know prices at most of these independent bookstores are the best places to buy cheap books in Portland. It is much like the rise in popularity of Portland thrift shops, which also have some great bargains on used books.
Carrying both new and used inventory, independent bookstores can be a frugally pleasing experience for any shopper out there. There is no time like the present to stop your reliance on online book shopping and take a trip to buy cheap books in Portland’s small bookstores.
With our help, independent bookstores can do for books what thrift stores did for mom jeans—make the old cool again.
Here are my favorite places to buy cheap books in Portland:
There is an abundance of options that qualify as general bookstores carrying multiple genres of text. In Southeast Portland especially, shoppers can find themselves in the vicinity of a handful of traditional stores that carry a broad selection of titles:
In this small, quaint, and cozy shop that resides in an old house, books are stacked from floor to ceiling—often in an amazingly disorganized but accessible manner—and the employees are always happy to have you. When weather permits, Wallace Books even has an impressive $1 book table out front that includes titles varying from ‘what did I just read?’ to ‘didn’t that just come out?’
Not only does Wallace Books cram an impressive amount of product into their tiny shop but they offer both new and used copies of titles, and the prices are always pleasing to the wallet.
Wallace Books is located at 7241 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. Check out their Facebook page for more info.
Bingo Used Books
As you’re driving down Powell, you might notice the abundance of…well… strip clubs. Now if you’ve heard anything about Portland that is nothing to be surprised of (I mean we even have a vegan strip club for Pete’s sake). But if you look carefully between the ‘adult’ entertainment venues, you’ll find Bingo Used Books, where you can buy a different kind of adult entertainment that might have a bit more value than its neighborly competitors.
Bingo has more than 100,000 items in the store (including some CDs, vinyl, and DVDs) and advertises having 10,000 or more that cost less than $1. In addition to the in-store inventory, Bingo claims to have 100,000 more titles online.
Don’t be fooled by their website, though, you’ll get a better price for anything you buy from them by walking into the store. They say so themselves.
Bingo Used Books is located at 3366 S.E. Powell Blvd. Visit their website for the latest happenings.
Another Read Through
Owned by a mid-2000’s Portland transplant, Another Read Through is the epitome of the new Portland. Placed quietly in a hip North Portland neighborhood, Another Read Through features titles from bestselling authors to local novelists alike. There are often book readings or launches at the store. Much like most of the Portland independent booksellers, Another Read Through is proud to offer significantly reduced priced secondhand titles.
Another Read Through is located at 3932 N. Mississippi Ave. Visit their website for upcoming events, inventory and more.
Although Broadway Books sells primarily new titles, they do have a collection of secondhand and on-sale books. The store has been in operation since 1992, and does its part to support the local authors and the vibrant street in which they call home. They are proud to be an independent Portland bookseller.
This book store boasts an impressive lineup on monthly event that can be found on their website. Broadway Books is located at 1714 N.E. Broadway.
Some other stores promote secondhand and reasonably priced new titles in Portland. If you’re looking to survey the entire Portland independent bookselling scene, you can’t miss the following (one of them there’s no way you’d miss anyhow):
New Renaissance Books
Slipped cunningly into a Northwest Portland home is New Renaissance Books, a store that just whispers you into relaxation. Featuring mainly spiritual titles—and by that I mean Buddhist, relaxation and astrological—the store also has a very cool collection of homeware.
New Renaissance Books is located at 1338 N.W. 23rd Ave. Visit their website to explore a wide range of events, readings and products.
Annie Bloom’s Books
In 1978, Annie Bloom’s Books opened in Multnomah Village. They’re still going strong. There are no used titles in this store, but they do offer an impressive array of new titles. Instead of super low secondhand prices, Annie’s is proud to offer a robust selection of sale books at all times.
Also, and maybe most importantly, this bookstore has a cat named Molly that graces the establishment with her presence.
Annie Bloom’s Books is located at 7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy. Visit their website for staff favorites, events, a newsletter and more.
Powell’s City of Books
The king of all gods. The ruler of them all… Powell’s City of Books is a mammoth store (taking up an entire city block). Although Powell’s has expanded to other locations in Portland, it remains an independent bookseller and has a more than an extensive collection of used and new titles from all genres.
Powell’s City of Books is located at Visit their website and feast your eyes on a bunch of sweet sweet digital literature.
Special Interest Bookstores
Back to Northeast Portland…of course. In this part of town those of us who are looking for a children’s specific bookstore, or possibly a feminist bookstore, have options.
A Children’s Place
Portland’s oldest independent children’s bookstore has been going strong since 1974. With a small and enthusiastic staff and plenty of events A Children’s Place is an exemplary operation to support, not to mention they are savvy price makers!
A Children’s Place is located at 1423 N.E. Fremont St. Visit their website for a listing of programs and events.
Green Bean Books
In the same neck of the woods is Green Bean Books, another children’s oriented, independent seller. The store offers a traditional cozy reading atmosphere and has new and used titles all of which are reasonably priced. They have a small staff, so everyone knows what they’re doing.
Green Bean Books is located at 1600 N.E. Alberta St. Visit their website for events, an educator’s section and a list of specials.
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