Store opening in University Village in Seattle, WA. Twenty years after Amazon started selling books online.
by Issie Lapowsky
Bookstore owners already loathe Amazon for gutting the cost of books online and driving so many brick and mortar shops out of business. Now, the online retailer is both beating them and joining them, with the opening of its first physical bookstore today in Seattle.
Amazon Books, as the new store is called, will be like any other Main Street bookstore (remember those?), except that Amazon will use the troves of data it collects from its online customers to stock the shelves. That means its book displays will feature real Amazon book reviews, and the store will showcase books that have amassed the most pre-orders online. The books will also come with Amazon’s trademark low price tags.
It can afford those cut-rate prices, of course, because Amazon Books is as much a bookstore as it is a billboard. Amazon’s not suddenly betting big on the bookstore business, and it certainly doesn’t need the store to be a success in order for Amazon to succeed. It’s better to think of Amazon Books as a giant advertisement. If it makes a little extra money for a $294.7 billion company, all the better.
The one silver lining for the book enthusiasts forced to watch their industry turn into a gimmick is that, according to the Seattle Times, Amazon is hiring from other retail stores and libraries that may be struggling. Well, silver lining for those hoping for Seattle-area book store jobs. For Seattle-area book store employers, it’s probably not pleasant watching their employees get poached.
For now, Amazon says the store won’t be serving double duty as a warehouse or pickup center, and the vice president of Amazon Books, Jennifer Cast, tells the Seattle Times the company doesn’t yet have plans to open a second location. “We’re completely focused on this bookstore,” Cast said. “We hope this is not our only one. But we’ll see.”