Der Tagesspiegel published a brief interview today where they asked Amazon Germany boss Ralf Kleber about the current state of the company. The piece is short but it does include this gem: "Setting up shops was always an option. Berlin would be a top candidate for an Amazon store," said Kleber. "In no other German city do we have so much invested," he added, before going on to note Amazon still sells a lot of print books online, and that "people will always buy offline. The customer should have the choice."
So tell me, does that sound like true interest from Amazon, or do you think that the journalist is more interested than Kleber?
Amazon opened a bookstore in Seattle just last month, and they've also installed kiosks or opened pop up stores in Paris, California, and China, so we do know that they are showing interest in brick and mortar retail.
But we also know that Amazon is a cautious company that experiments on a small scale before taking a service international or making it widely available, and there's a huge difference between kiosks that will close after the holidays and a permanent bookstore.
Their Seattle bookstore is only a month old, so it's far too soon to say whether the idea works in the US, much less elsewhere in the world. Sure, some consumers are clamoring for an Amazon store, and Amazon is gradually opening additional unstore locations, but a bookstore would still be a more expensive commitment - one which Amazon might not want to make.
The Amazon Books bookstore in Seattle stocks around 5,000 titles, all of which are shelved face out, and promoted by a shelf label that draws on online reviews from Amazon.com and Goodreads. There are no prices in the store; instead customers are encouraged to use their smartphones and Amazon app to check prices and look up other details. Yes, Amazon encourages its customers to showroom its own store, thus making it easier for the retailer to collect data about their browsing habits (arguably the real reason Amazon opened the store).
So the real question to ask is this: Does Amazon want to collect similar data about German consumers?