What’s Good for the Goose: Amazon Books Has Been Showroomed

A few years back Amazon came under fire when it encouraged its customers to showroom brick-and-mortar retailers, and now that it has opened its first bookstore the shoe is on the other foot.

Earlier this week Seattlite and cofounder of the Seattle Review of Books Paul Constant challenged Twitter to showroom Amazon:

Four days later someone took Constant up on his offer. He announce on his blog The Seattle Review of Books on Friday that Alice Stieger has claimed the title of first confirmed case of Amazon Books being showroomed. Stieger was browsing Amazon Books when she found Alice Hoffman's The Marriage of Opposites, which she proceeded to buy from Queen Anne Book Company.

She picked up the book in store the same day:

So there you have it. Alice Stieger is the first person to showroom Amazon Books (here's the second). She overpaid for the privilege, but that is her choice.

Would anyone care to repeat the feat with, say, B&N? What about buying from another indie, or buying an ebook from Kobo?

The Seattle Review of Books



About Nate Hoffelder (11463 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

18 Comments on What’s Good for the Goose: Amazon Books Has Been Showroomed

  1. And the book was 10 dollars cheaper on Amazon.

  2. expected no less from the comments

  3. Price isn’t everything. My wife and I buy Subaru automobiles. There are 5 nearby dealers and several other easily accessible dealers at which we can make the purchase. Yet we go to one particular dealer (and have for all the Subarus we have bought except our first one) even though we know we can get the same car at one of the other dealers for at least $300 less. We have several reasons for doing this, not least of which is the personal service we our provided over the course of our ownership of the car.

    My point only is that not everyone is solely motivated by spending the least amount possible on an item. For some of us, there are other considerations which tip the balance away from the cheapest option.

  4. Hi Richard, We have all had good reasons to buy a product at a higher price. Nothing wrong with that, but who goes to a shop to purposely not buy from that shop? This stunt was useless in the sense that Amazon did not lose a sale. This person was never going to buy the book from Amazon.

    Showrooming is about comparing the same product between shops. Some shops, have better prices, or may include freebies or as you say, better service. We decide which factors are more relevant to us. Price is important for many people but not all.

    What this lady did was a stunt, not showrooming.

  5. And the best part, is that she made money from it. The joke is on Paul Constant who paid her $75

  6. tbh i have found a book on amazon and then bought it elsewhere

  7. I agree with Hayden, this (these) stunt(s) fail to meet the definition of showrooming, “the practice of visiting a store or stores in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price.” If someone is so loyal to a particular (online or offline) shop that they will happily pay several more dollars per purchase, it’s an incredible waste of time and fuel to visit a rival (B&M) shop. Pointless, but I suppose it amounts to clicks for SRB, just not sure if it’s $75 worth.

  8. Sounds like a reality TV show: spiteful people doing silly things for money.

  9. As I mentioned elsewhere, by teaching people to use the Amazon app who might never have bothered with it before, Amazon Books is showing people how to showroom. Once they know how to check something’s price on Amazon, perhaps they’ll be inclined to do so in other stores, too.

  10. I learned something new with this post. I’d always thought that the definition of showrooming included that it was purchased at a lower price, but I see that’s only the most common definition. I didn’t think this counted, at first, but I see it doesn’t matter the price.

    Chris makes a great point, to which I’ll add, not only is Amazon showing people how to showroom, it’s doing so on its own app. Which means somebody is going to walk into a Walmart or a BestBuy or a wherever, and they’re going to remember having gone to Amazon’s store and using its app, and they’re going to be curious and try it again, and they’re going to end up buying that television they were considering from Amazon, with free Prime shipping, rather than carting the thing home from BestBuy.

    • @ Will

      Indeed. People might be showrooming Amazon, but as Chris points out they’re still being trained to showroom brick and mortar retailers. This is a behavior that they will eventually repeat in other stores, and that can only benefit Amazon.

  11. @Will Or else they’re going to take advantage of the way more and more chains, like Best Buy and Fry’s, are price matching Amazon when asked. So they can take the TV home from Best Buy that day at the Amazon price and not have to wait for the shipping, free or otherwise.

  12. Good call. I totally forgot about price matching. I wonder how far they can match without taking a loss, or how much loss they can accommodate if they do.

  13. Maybe I’m being pedantic, but where is the proof that she was at the Amazon Bookstore when she ordered the other book online? Also, isn’t ironic that she ended up ordering the book through what looks like an Amazon Marketplace vendor, so Amazon likely got a chunk of her payment as well.

    • One of her earlier tweets showed the book on the shelf in Amazon Books.

      And I missed it before, but I do believe you’re right. The screensnap looks like what I’ve seen on the Amazon website. So they didn’t showroom Amazon at all!

  14. @Hayden: Just to clarify. I wasn’t intending to comment on the showrooming. I was intending to comment only on Syn’s and Nate’s comments that focused on her having paid $10 more for the book. I agree with the comments that have been made regarding showrooming. I know that when I want to buy a book, I go first to the B&N website. If B&N has the book, I order it; I don’t spend time trying to find it cheaper. I consider my time valuable and based on past experience believe that I would spend more by using my time to shop than I would save. Usually the difference (for the books that interest me) in price between Amazon and B&N is just $2 or $3 maximum, and often the price difference is countable in pennies. My time is much more valuable than that savings.

  15. @Richard,

    Completely agree with you. People sometimes focus too much on the price of a product and will go to great lengths to save minimal amounts.

    I used to buy me eBooks from Kobo, but, in my experience, their service was not as good as other retailers. They have lost my business. I could not care less if I can save a buck on a book from them. Its interesting to see that Kobo has stuffed up again. It simply reaffirms my decision. They will just lose more loyal customers and scare away any new customers

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