Around Indie Bookstores

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Powell's to Harness Solar Energy

Michael Powell and daughter Emily in front of the rows of solar panels on the roof. More photos.

Powell's Books of Portland, Oregon, has announced that in December it "will begin harnessing the sun's power with one of the largest solar electric installations in the State of Oregon," a roof-mounted 100-kilowatt photovoltaic system on Powell's Books NW Warehouse. It is estimated the new system will generate approximately 110,900 kWh per year to replace about a quarter of the annual electricity consumption at the 60,000-square foot home of

"It made perfect sense for our business financially, and it supports our values as a company," said Powell's owner Michael Powell in a statement. "We are continually looking for ways for our business to lessen its impact on the environment."

In financing its solar energy installation, Powell's said it was able to "take advantage of two tax credits and an Oregon Energy Trust incentive in addition to using an accelerated depreciation method of accounting for the system. Despite the relatively low cost of electricity in Oregon, the payback on Powell's original investment will happen in a short five-year timeframe, just a fraction of the system's life span. Combined with the federal tax credit that was recently renewed by Congress for another eight years, the numerous incentives specific to Oregon make the state one of the best places to install solar systems in the U.S."

Prairie Lights Helps Iowa City Become "World's Third City of Literature"

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

"This is at once a celebration of the literary riches and resources of Iowa City and a spur to action," said University of Iowa International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill, who led the UI Writing University committee that submitted the city's proposal. "We look forward to working with our new partners in the Creative Cities network -- to forging dynamic relationships with writers, artists and others committed to the life of discovery. This is a great day for Iowa City." Iowa City joins Edinburgh, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia, as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Among the "10 Things to Know" about Iowa City, UNESCO said in a press release, was local institution Prairie Lights Books, described as "the 'destination' independent bookstore that hosts three or more live readings every week. 'Live From Prairie Lights' has been the only ongoing series of live-broadcast literary readings on American radio, and the tradition is now entering a new era through different media."

Once Upon a Time Celebrates 42nd Birthday

Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka recently helped Once Upon a Time bookstore, in Montrose, California, mark its 42nd anniversary. While on tour for the latest in his Trucktown series, Melvin Might?, Scieszka appeared at Once Upon a time for a "hugely successful event, where more than 150 kids and parents laughed" at his readings from The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and the Trucktown books, said store owner Maureen Palacios.

To draw attention to the event, Palacios created a display featuring a huge tire from an 18-wheel truck in the store's large picture window. Following Scieszka's appearance, he posed with store staff.

Once Upon a Time, founded in 1966, is the oldest children's bookstore in the country, said Palacios, and on Sunday, November 23, well-wishers stopping by a tent set up outside the store during the town's Harvest Market, offered congratulations and had a piece of birthday cake made by Montrose Bakery.

Illinois Prairie Book Sellers Helping to Revitalize Downtown

The Peoria Journal Star recently shined the spotlight on businesses, including Illinois Prairie Book Sellers, that are helping to revitalize downtown Pekins, Illinois.

"The reason we came down here was to hopefully start a renaissance downtown," Stewart Hamm, co-owner of Illinois Prairie Book Sellers, told the newspaper. The year-old store, which Hamm co-owns with his wife, Julie, is "hanging in there and hoping for the economy to turn around," he said. The Hamms are also relying on the personal touch of great customer service and a grassroots, direct mailing campaign to keep customers informed.