ENTER THE Boys Fort storefront at SW 9th and Morrison. Head right—past the “503” baseball caps, the letterpress coasters, the artisanal slingshots—and round a corner.
Nestled in the back, past the essential oil and handmade earring pop-up shops, you’ll just about run into a hardcover oral history of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Nearby is Taschen’s the Ingmar Bergman Archives—a 600-page, 15-pound tome on the Swedish filmmaker. Above it sits a tantalizing Wong Kar-wai monograph and Orson Welles retrospective.
This clean, well-lit space is Portland’s newest bookstore—Adelina Film & Art Books. Opened by Rachel Greben and Dan DeWeese (of Propeller Books), the 200-square-foot store caters to Portland’s vibrant film community, which is sometimes overlooked in a city of bikes and breweries.
The co-owners’ commitment to film is evident from their highly curated collection to their company ethos. “Our inspiration comes from Italian neorealism,” says Greben. “Maximum creativity shaped from limited resources.” (And yes, the store is named after Sophia Loren’s character in Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.)
The inventory will have film buffs salivating, whether they’re into Chantal Akerman or Star Wars. Going beyond the average coffee table book, the owners select books that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the mind. “It’s a good place to buy a book you tell yourself you’re going to give to someone else—which you then just keep,” says DeWeese.
DeWeese adds that the average film fanatic will be familiar with many of their titles—which is a good thing. “I’m hoping their first feeling is a sense of comfort: ‘These shelves are my kind of place.’ But they also see, after a few minutes of looking, that in fact there are some things here they haven’t seen elsewhere.”
He’s referring to the UK-published BFI Film Classics collection—portable paperbacks with beautiful covers examining films from Akira to Vertigo—that are frankly “too much of a pain in the ass for other bookstores to get.” Adelina may be one of the few places in the country where you can physically thumb through Salman Rushdie’s thoughts on The Wizard of Oz, the author’s “very first literary influence.”
Greben hopes the art book side of the store—featuring folios for all ages on photography, music, dance, painting, and architecture—offers a similar environment, one that’s as accessible as it is illuminating. “So many people feel that if they don’t understand art, that world is closed to them. In truth, there is some kind of artistic experience out there for nearly everyone. So our first tendency is to include books that are inviting and informative—as many different perspectives as we can fit into this space.”
But do we... need another bookstore? Especially blocks away from the city’s independent behemoth? “People think bookstores are in competition with one another,” says DeWeese. “My sense is that they’re more like coffee houses—there’s room in a city for plenty of different experiences.”
DeWeese pauses. “I own physical DVDs and Blu-rays, because when I look at my shelves, I see things I might want to rewatch. If I just go onto Hulu, the scope is narrowed, my browsing is controlled. And while the computer screen is an interesting room, I think there are actual rooms that let your mind do more things. What good stores do is open up the scope.”
Adelina manages just that, allowing you to get lost for hours within a circumscribed but comforting space—much like the best films.