Readers Respond

In last week’s issue, we published a map of every current and planned Amazon Books physical bookstore (visit for an interactive version). Unsurprisingly, the story sparked plenty of debate online about how Amazon’s expansion of its bricks-and-mortar presence helps or hurts the book biz and book lovers. Two readers got into a compelling debate:

“I’m reading about Amazon opening stores at a more rapid clip in neighborhoods and communities that have probably been starved for (any) bookstore for several years.” —John Bouldry

“These are NOT neighborhoods starving for bookstores, indie or otherwise. Quite the opposite: Amazon is shouldering its way into communities where indies have long been successful and supported. Why would Amazon go into a community where the bookstores have already shuttered (most often due to being unable to compete with Amazon’s predatory practices)? These B&M stores are intended to chase out the few remaining survivors who have thrived, DESPITE Amazon.” —Sarah Kimmell

“When Borders closed, and a few BNs afterward, Northside of Chicago became a Book Desert. There is no large-footprint general bookstore on the northside of Chicago.... I am curious to see how the Amazon merchandise plan by ranking benefits smaller or independent publishers that are either ignored by large chain or independent, or don’t get the benefit of strong handselling sales representation” —J.B.

“Amazon doesn’t do them any favors by a LONG shot.... Amazon stores aren’t ‘large-footprint general bookstores’ in the least. They are boutiques; Chicago’s is 6,000 sq. ft., much of which is dedicated to Amazon’s electronics offerings, and far less than 4000 titles. For comparison, B&N averages more than 20,000 sqft per store. So you can see EXACTLY what market Amazon is chasing after, and who they are intending to shut down next.” —S.K.

What do you think? Is Amazon’s expansion predatory or good news?

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The most-read review on last week was The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy.


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