The Portland You Know: Powell's bookstore What travel guide to the Rose City doesn't mention Powell's in the second sentence? It's one of the largest independent bookstores in the United States. You'll find thousands of titles and many bargains. And you'll do it in a crowd. Listings: Powell's City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside, 503-228-4651 or www.powells.com. Portland Worth Discovering: Murder By the Book and New Renaissance Bookshop If a bookstore can't be as big as Powell's, niche marketing can be a survival secret. The friendly ladies who run Murder By the Book, a Hawthorne-district haunt since 1983, know how to slice and dice their subgenres. All over the shop, signs point to categories such as The Butler Did It (classics from mystery's Golden Age), Tall, Dark & Deadly (romantic suspense), Once Upon a Crime (historical mysteries) and many more. They passed my wife's test. Powell's didn't have any titles in the obscure 13th-century mystery series she devours. MBTB did, and manager Jean May had even read one of the Fools' Guild mysteries by Alan Gordon."I really believe there's a mystery out there for everyone!" May said. They strive to stock all books in a series, and know the personal touch counts. "I trust their opinions. They call you by name. This is a mystery store, and they know everything about it," said a regular, Portlander John Tucker. Across town in the Northwest district, New Renaissance Bookshop competes, like Powell's, for largest in the nation, but in a single genre: New Age. Filling a colorfully painted old house are titles such as "Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood" and "Your Dog is Your Mirror: The Emotional Capacity of Our Dogs and Ourselves." There are shelves jammed with crystals, whole carousels of yoga DVDs, more lavender and bergamot aromatherapy products than you can sneeze at, and a CD rack with six consecutive bins labeled "Chanting." Listings: Murder By the Book, 3210 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. (take the Route 14 TriMet bus from downtown), 503-232-9995 or www.mbtb.com. New Renaissance Bookshop, 1338 N.W. 23rd Ave. (take the Portland Streetcar from downtown), 503-224-4929 or www.newrenbooks.com.
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