Parallel Worlds: A welcoming science fiction bookstore on Alberta Street


Greta Boelling

A sweet little science fiction themed bookstore has popped up on Alberta Street, tucked in between Thai Noon and Monograph Bookwerks. The owner of Parallel Worlds, Sam Jones, has created a colorful and welcoming environment for geeking out on what he calls a “looked down on” genre.

Parallel Worlds has reached its five-month mark upon opening and is a great addition to the lively, shoping friendly street of Alberta.

“Like walking into the sci-fi/fantasy section of your favorite bookstore and they have all the authors you’ve been having trouble finding and the works of theirs that are usually sold out,” a happy customer wrote in a Google review, “Great selection!”

Sophomore Min Min Dippold, an enjoyer of good books, would recommend going.

“The owner was incredibly friendly and sociable,” Dippold said.

Jones said he has always loved visiting bookstores around Portland, so when he found the space but didn’t have a plan for it, he had the idea of opening his own.

“I just thought that it’d be a great time to open something like this, like science fiction only. I think it probably only exists in a city like Portland in such a book friendly town,” said Jones, who’s been working in the book business for about ten years.

Jones explained he chose the name Parallel Worlds as a representation of the connections between the science fiction world and real life.

“I wanted something simple that conveyed the idea of science fiction and fantasy kind of representing different parts of our world and ideas of the future and the past,” he said.

The selection of books have an appealing amount of variety and are skillfully organized, making book-searching easy. If you’re looking for some of the classics like Dune and The Lord of The Rings, or for more obscure books dating way back, you can find them in mass-market paperback editions. There are plenty of newer titles and authors covering the walls as well.

Jones’ books are carefully chosen from all sorts of places.

“I scout a lot of books, which is just going out and sort of looking at peoples’ collections,” Jones said. “People bring me books here, to sell or trade, and then also I get what’s called remainders, from the United Kingdom, and they’ve made too many of them and now they’re really cheap. So I get them for really cheap, and then I sell them for really cheap.”

When thinking about the future of his bookstore, Jones imagines doing some fun community events like hosting a sci-fi book club, possibly in the near future and preferably featuring a BIPOC author.

He has also considered doing a themed short-film showing.

“I’d like to do some events, maybe not here because of the size but also try and think about doing invitationals for art shows,” he said. “Just [to] have people think about different sorts of science fiction or fantasy things they’d want to make for a video and do short videos.”

If large bookstores overwhelm you, Parallel Worlds will make your book searching easier with its thoughtfully chosen selection of science fiction reads and kind store owner who has plenty of good book suggestions and knowledge on the genre.