When 8,500 people descended on the Portland Art Museum for the revived Portland Book Festival (formerly “Wordstock”) in 2015, the message to its new organizer, Literary Arts, was clear: Portlanders love to get their read on, and this festival — missing in action for more than two years — had not been forgotten.
Founded in 2005 by local writer Larry Colton and renamed in 2018, the annual festival always featured an impressive lineup of local and national authors and a book fair. But its original incarnation, held at the expansive Oregon Convention Center through–2013, wasn’t quite the “metaphorical public square” that Literary Arts Executive Director Andrew Proctor, the festival’s new leader, had in mind.
Enter the Portland Art Museum. As the festival’s rebooted primary venue, the museum provides a backdrop for art, history and culture to merge with conversation, books and ideas. (Other venues include the nearby Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Powell’s City of Books, Pioneer Place, The Northwest Children’s Theater and School and Rontoms). The festival is packed with on-stage author conversations, interviews, panels, interactive Q&A’s, pop-up readings in galleries and coffee shops, kids’ story times, live music, an expanded book fair and — in true Portland fashion — food trucks parked outside on festival day.
“When you think of Portland’s profile, it’s a cool town with great food and wine and people who love to read and are serious about the arts,” says Proctor. “The idea that you can have a festival of books and ideas that’s incredibly fun to be at, all distilled into downtown with a huge book fair and an entire museum, for [the ticket price of] $15 -$25 — this is something that could only happen in Portland.”
In short, Portland Book Festival’s new iteration celebrates contemporary literature in a way that feels, well, contemporary.
Don't stop with the largest independent bookstore in the world; these seven other shops offer an abundance of literary riches.
Pick up a winning read at one of Portland’s many independent bookstores and curl up in a cozy corner of one of these eight local coffee shops.
These notable hometown authors capture the spirit of the Pacific Northwest and are must-reads for visitors and locals alike.
Was this page helpful?