Is Powell's the Greatest Bookstore in the World?

There have been a few recent threads about the demise of the bookstore. I pity those who live in cities or towns with no bookstores because I am spoiled in regards to bookstores. My hometown is home to the greatest bookstore in the world, Powell’s City of Books. Not to mention, there is a Barnes and Noble a few blocks from my house. But I have not traveled much and I don’t really know if Powell’s is the greatest in the world? I know of at least three more stores that might challenge it.


It’s pretty damn good.

Although it is ugly, The World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, is said to have over 20 km (12.5 miles) of book shelves and (again, according to Wiki) contains more titles on site than any other book store in the World.

But it is hardly appealing in terms of atmosphere, there is nowhere to sit, and parking is impossible.

Is it the “greatest”? I hope not.

I have visited Strand’s, Powell’s and City Lights each on several different occasions—My favorite is far and away City Lights, but probably more due to it’s great location (where North Beach and Chinatown meet) which is steps away from several great bars, restaurants and coffee houses, than the actual bookstore itself…

As for book selection alone, Powell’s is my favorite, but all three offer more than could ever be read in 33 lifetimes.

I think Foyle’s in London must be a candidate. At one point it had 30 miles/50km of shelving, and some very odd customs. I haven’t been since the old lady who ran it with a rod of iron and minimal practical sense died, but it’s still a huge shop, and presumably it’s a fair bit easier to actually, y’know, buy a book nowadays!

Amazon is the greatest bookstore in the world (for me) because it will allow me to read, via my Kindle, within minutes the interesting looking book I see being read by the person across from me on the train.

But yes, the Powell’s of my childhood is the best I’ve experienced (but having moved away from the area a decade ago I haven’t been regularly in a long time).

I agree with this, but in SF, I ultimately prefer **Green Apple **at 6th and Clement over City Lights - it is more like a small version of the Strand or Powell’s…or it was when i was living a few blocks away from it.

Agree on Green Apple over City Lights.

Have not visited any of those so I wouldn’t want to say which is best. The best bookstore I’ve actually visited is The Tattered Cover in Denver.

Hell, even without the Kindle, it’s the greatest bookstore in the world. My wife and I have shelves and shelves full of books in our house, but I can’t remember the last time either of us was in a physical bookstore. However, we’ve bought a shitload of books on Amazon.

For me Amazon has been surpassed by The Book Depository, who always offer free world wide shipping. There is a great Aussie service Booko which searches every online site for a price for a book, delivered to Australia. The cheapest is, almost without fail I think, The Book Depository. We now use it for all our purchases for the library at work.

Another vote for the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto. It’s the best bookstore I’ve been to. (The only one of the four in the poll I’ve been to is Strand’s.)

Powell’s in Chicago. Best. Bookstore. Ever.

There’s also Blackwell’s in Oxford, England. There’s Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., which is the bookstore that appears most often on Book TV on CSPAN 2. And, of course, there’s the entire town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales.