The tech giant that pioneered online bookselling is going old school. Amazon unveiled its first bricks-and-mortar bookstore, Amazon Books, in Seattle’s upscale University Village shopping mall.
Unlike the staffed locations the 20-year-old e-tailer began experimenting with on college campuses in February, the 5,500 sq. ft. location is a full-service bookstore, which will be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The U-Village mall had previously been home to a popular 46,000 sq. ft. Barnes & Noble. That store closed, after operating for 16 years, in December 2011. Last month, Shelf Awareness identified the former Blue C Sushi location at U-Village--which Amazon Books now occupies--as the rumored site for the e-tailer's first physical store.
In a letter to Amazon customers, Jennifer Cast, v-p of Amazon Books, called the store a "physical extension of Amazon.com." Cast also hinted to The Seattle Times that Amazon is interested in opening other bricks-and-mortar locations; referring to this store, she told the paper "we hope this is not our only one."
The titles at Amazon Books will be displayed face out, and the selection is based on customer ratings from Amazon.com. Most titles that the store carries will have a rating of four stars and above. Other statistics from Amazon.com which might earn a title a spot at Amazon Books include its number of pre-orders, its sales and its popularity on Goodreads. All of these factors will be combined with assessments from the store's buyers. Additionally, pricing at Amazon Books will mimic pricing at Amazon.com.
The Seattle Times also reported that Amazon Books will feature some of the popular categories found in other bookstores, such as staff favorites. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is included as a "staff" member, and Amazon Books currently features titles that the CEO supposedly likes, such as The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and Traps by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos.
Although Amazon Books will not serve as a pick up location for non-book products sold at Amazon.com, it will showcase and sell Amazon devices, including the Kindle. Showrooming will also be a welcome practice at Amazon Books, with customers encouraged to use the store as a place to examine products that they can then purchase on Amazon.com.