Books & Zines

Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm

by on January 2nd, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Elly Blue
Elly Blue, on the job in 2013.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

One of the power couples of Portland biking has decided to formally join forces professionally, too.

Elly Blue, creator of the Taking the Lane zine about feminism and biking and the author or publisher of several other bike-themed books, announced this week that she’s merged her living-room operation Elly Blue Publishing with Microcosm Publishing, the Portland-based independent publisher founded and managed for years by her partner Joe Biel.


Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

by on September 23rd, 2014 at 3:22 pm

talking to J with paper
Street Books founder Laura Maulton talks last week with patrons Jonathan and Bam.

After four summers loaded with all the paperbacks you can fit on a cargo trike, Portland’s most public library is rolling merrily forward.

Book review: Pedal Portland by Todd Roll

by on May 14th, 2014 at 10:24 am

Book: Pedal Portland: 25 Easy Rides for Exploring the City by Bike
Author: Todd Roll
Publisher: Timber Press, 2014
Price: $16.95

Reviewed by Nicholas Von Pless

Around this time of year, I’m inviting friends from afar to enjoy the summer we yearn for after a long slog of grey and rain. But with some dry spells and surprising summery days this winter, I was able to get a preview of the rides illustrated in Pedal Portland, the new book from Todd Roll. (If Roll’s name sounds familiar that’s because he also owns and runs Pedal Bike Tours (and he also happens to be the guy who commissioned the now infamous “America’s Bicycle Capital” mural.)

In Pedal Portland, Roll outlines 25 rides that cover the entire region. From familiar bikeways in the central city to regional gems in Gresham, Hillsboro, and Vancouver. Like the guided bike tours offered by Roll’s company, the skill level of the routes ranges from very easy to pretty easy, which is great for my out-of-town friends, and great for reinvigorating the fair-weather riders of our fine city.

Book Review: Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Rides in Washington

by on April 9th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Cover of Cycle Sojourner: Washington

Publisher’s note: Two years ago we took a look at Portland author Ellee Thalheimer’s first Cycling Sojourner guidebook that covered the best rides in Oregon. Now she’s back with a Washington edition that’s due out next month. BikePortland contributor Nicholas Von Pless received an advanced copy and shares his review below. — Jonathan

Around this time last year, I had just a couple longer distance rides under my belt: there was a two-day jaunt from Portland to Eugene (the first and last trip done without cycling shorts), and a few all-day rides within 30 miles of the city. But I wanted to get out and explore more. Fortunately, I had Ellee Thalheimer’s Cycling Sojourner, a companion for cycling through all of Oregon’s celebrated lands – from the treasured Painted Hills to the rolling vineyards of McMinnville. With Thalheimer’s expert guidance, I was turned on to some of the greatest adventures to be had on two wheels.

So on the cusp of another beautiful summer’s riding season, it was a no-brainer to again look to Ellee for guidance. And she delivers in her second installment, Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Washington.

With Hawaii expansion and a new book, bike-tour entrepreneur Todd Roll is on the move

by on April 3rd, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Todd Roll in February with his fleet of tour bikes.
(Photos courtesy Pedal Bike Tours.)

Todd Roll of downtown-based Pedal Bike Tours has had a big spring.

Last month, his company — maybe best known to Portlanders as the one behind downtown’s “America’s Bicycle Capital” mural — expanded to Honolulu. And next month, his first book is coming out from Timber Press: Pedal Portland, a compilation of 25 easy city bike rides informed by his company’s experience renting out bikes and leading local tours.


NYT writer and ‘Life is a Wheel’ author Bruce Weber at Powell’s Books tonight

by on March 24th, 2014 at 9:38 am

A book its publisher describes as, “Part travelogue, part memoir, part romance, part paean to the bicycle as a simple mode of both mobility and self-expression” will be featured at Powell’s Books in downtown Portland tonight. The author is Bruce Weber, a man who has written words for a living as a writer and reporter for the New York Times since 1986.

There are dozens of books about trans-continental bike rides; and many of them are, how should we say, forgettable. But when a writer with Weber’s skill and C.V. makes the journey and devotes 336 pages to his experience, it’s definitely worth paying attention. Weber’s just-released, Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America has already earned critical acclaim and it’s likely to become a favorite of bicycle book lovers.

Here’s more the publisher: (more…)

Microcosm is latest bikey business to open on N Williams Avenue

by on January 28th, 2014 at 8:03 am

Right off the Williams Avenue bicycle highway.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The local bike-friendly bookstore that also happens to be one of the country’s largest zine distributors and publishers has grown again and joined the row of bike-friendly businesses on North Williams.

“Once we built lofts in our storefront to store books under, and filled up a storage unit down the street, we knew it was time to get serious about finding a new building,” Microcosm Publishing spokesman Tim Wheeler wrote in an email Monday. “Since we’re bike commuters and our customers are bike commuters, we didn’t want to move hundreds of blocks outside the city center or away from our own homes and lives, so we narrowed our search to affordable commercial spaces in inner Portland.”


Radically sensible: 8 questions for Elly Blue, Portland’s pop bikenomist

by on September 5th, 2013 at 10:17 am

Cover of Bikenomics

As she writes in her new book Bikenomics, Portland-based bike writer Elly Blue backed into bike activism in her mid-20s, when she realized that bikes advanced so many of her other wishes for the country.

Almost a decade later, Blue has organized years of observations about the economic benefits of biking into a 194-page book of deeply rational arguments that’s poised to make a splash. It’s studded with stories from her reporting around the United States and anecdotes from her own life and work. Yesterday I talked to Blue, 35 (founder of Elly Blue Publishing, a columnist for Bicycling.com, self-publisher of the quarterly zine Taking the Lane and a former managing editor here at BikePortland), in an email conversation about the country’s most underrated biking city, one of her frustrations with this very blog, and that one time she finally learned to drive.

You’re the queen of bike statistics. Pick your favorite. (more…)

Three local bike books to nab (and one to await)

by on August 9th, 2013 at 8:18 am

bike books!
Portland is rich with locally written bike books.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland has been exporting its biking expertise for years, but the explosion of independent publishing is helping that happen faster than ever.

Case in point: Four new books by young local authors, all currently in development, poised to document and spread local bike wisdom around the city, the region and the country. One’s about moving by bike, one’s about bike touring, one’s about bike-inspired cooking and one is a popular-audience introduction to the role bikes can play in economic growth.

With the days getting shorter and book season approaching, here’s a cheat sheet on a few projects in the works, and how to get ahold of them.


Book event tonight: A chronicle of life in Amsterdam, the ‘City of Bikes’

by on May 3rd, 2013 at 9:25 am

Pete Jordan, a former Portland resident who lived in Amsterdam for the past eleven years, has written a book about the experience. In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist (Harper Perennial 2013) came out a few days ago and Jordan is back in Portland tonight for a reading.

Here’s more about the book from Powells.com:

“When Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make America’s cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels. His new bride, Amy Joy, joins Pete, and despite their financial hardships and instability, she eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam.

From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycle’s role in a citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.

Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, In the City of Bikes is the story of a man who loves bikes, in a city that loves bikes.”