By Elliot Njus, The Oregonian
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on April 25, 2013 at 11:32 AM, updated April 25, 2013 at 12:09 PMAfter just a couple of years with a Powell at the helm, Powell’s Books announced that its founder’s granddaughter would step aside as CEO and that a longtime executive would take over.

Emily Powell, who remains the third-generation owner of the Portland bookseller, told employees last month she would step down. She’s served as chief executive since 2010 and now will “step more fully into her role as the owner of Powell’s Books,” the company said in a statement.

She’ll be replaced by Miriam Sontz, who was most recently the company’s chief operating officer. Sontz, who at one point served as the co-CEO of the company, will oversee the bookseller’s business operations and strategic planning.

“I look forward to steering Powell’s Books forward through our ever-changing book industry,” Sontz said in the statement. “We are well-positioned to continue efficiencies around operations so we can focus on our customers. Highlighting and expanding the unique experience people have when shopping at Powell’s is our top priority.”

Powell will focus on the company’s long-term future, the statement said.

She took over at a time when the company, facing declining book sales, was cutting retail and management positions.

Powell was also involved in a deal to build student housing for the Pacific Northwest College of Art at the former site of Powell’s Technical Books adjacent to the North Park Blocks.

— Elliot Njus