Amazon Opens First Physical Bookstore
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
Today at 9.30 am, the first ever Amazon Books opened its doors. Amazon has previously had pop-up stores showcasing their devices, like Kindle, Echo, and the Fire TV and Tablet, as well as pick-up locations for online orders, but this is their first permanent physical location. The store can be found in Seattle’s University Village, a choice that was based on the large reading market in Seattle as well as its proximity to Amazon’s headquarters.
The bookstore will offer test drives of Amazon devices, similar to previous pop up stores, and will have experts on hand to answer questions about the technology, but Vice President Jennifer Cast stresses in her press release that the focus will be on the books. Cast did not smment on whether there will be more Amazon Books locations, but said: “We hope this is not our only one.”
Among the main differences from a traditional bookstore is that Amazon Books will stock about 5000 titles, which is relatively little as bookstores go. They will shelve their books face out, to give their customers more information while browsing, and in front of each book there will be a small card with a customer rating and review from Amazon.com. Customers will be able to access the Amazon app in-store to read more about the product they are interested in. Prices are promised to be the same as on Amazon.com.
Books will be selected for the store based on sales, customer ratings and pre orders on Amazon.com, as well as ratings on Goodreads. The store will feature staff picks, as well as categories such as “Most Wished-For Cookbooks,” “Award Winners,” “4.5 Stars & Above,” and “Age 6–12.”
Staff for the store was sourced from local bookstores, and includes librarians, sales clerks and a literature loving former receptionist at Amazon’s headquarters.
It remains to be seen how the company that is often thought of as the enemy of bookstores will compete in the market. Jennifer Cast explains: “It’s data with heart, we’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.”