Twenty years later, Amazon has decided what it really needs is a physical, brick and mortar retail store to sell books. The first one opens this morning in Seattle's University Village neighborhood. From the Seattle Times:
The store, called Amazon Books, looks a lot like bookstores that populate malls across the country. Its wood shelves are stocked with 5,000 to 6,000 titles, best-sellers as well as Amazon.com customer favorites….
There is some irony in Amazon’s opening a physical store. For years, it could undercut physical retailers on price because it didn’t have brick-and-mortar locations. But those stores offered something Amazon couldn’t: the instant gratification of owning an item the second it was purchased, as well as the personal touch of a knowledgeable sales clerk.
Amazon is betting that the troves of data it generates from shopping patterns on its website will give it advantages in its retail location that other bookstores can’t match. It will use data to pick titles that will most appeal to Seattle shoppers.
And that could also solve the business problem that has long plagued other bookstores: unsold books that gather dust on shelves and get sent back to publishers. More than most book retailers, Amazon has deep insight into customer buying habits and can stock its store with titles most likely to move.
The company will stock best-sellers, of course. But it will also include books that get the highest ratings from its customers, including little-known titles. The store will also include such categories as “Most Wished-For Cookbooks.” Another section features “Award Winners, 4.5 Stars & Above, Age 6-12.”
The books are all being stocked facing out so you can see the cover. There are also staff favorites, just like a real bookseller, but this one includes recommendations from Jeff Bezos: “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “Traps” by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos. “A page-turner written by an award-winning novelist, who also happens to be my wife,” Bezos writes.
From Amazon's announcement:
Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com. We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping. The books in our store are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments. These are fantastic books! Most have been rated 4 stars or above, and many are award winners.
To give you more information as you browse, our books are face-out, and under each one is a review card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. You can read the opinions and assessments of Amazon.com’s book-loving customers to help you find great books.
Prices at Amazon Books are the same as prices offered by Amazon.com, so you’ll never need to compare our online and in-store prices. Nevertheless, our mobile app is a great way to read additional customer reviews, get more detailed information about a product, or even to buy products online.
Amazon Books is a store without walls – there are thousands of books available in store and millions more available at Amazon.com. Walk out of the store with a book; lighten your load and buy it online (Prime customers, of course, won’t pay for shipping); buy an eBook for your Kindle; or add a product to your Amazon Wish List, so someone else can buy it.
At Amazon Books, you can also test drive Amazon’s devices. Products across our Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet series are available for you to explore, and Amazon device experts will be on hand to answer questions and to show the products in action.