The Amazon Store

by LJN Dawson

amazon bookstoreI’m in Seattle for work, and the Amazon store opened while I was here. So I ran over to check it out.

I didn’t bother to take pictures. It’s wholly unremarkable, except for the preternatural cheeriness of the staff – a quality I find in the staff of EVERY Seattle establishment I go to. (I’m from New York. Friendliness, the genuine desire to help, the quite sincere hope that one has found everything one needs – I’m not used to this. I HAVE BOUNDARIES, PEOPLE.)

The aisles are, as reported, rather narrow. When one wants to look at a bunch of books, one doesn’t want to have to excuse oneself or squeeeeeeeeze past the other person who is looking at PRECISELY WHAT ONE WANTS TO BE LOOKING AT ONESELF.

Obviously, with every book face-out, inventory is minimal. And every book I saw there had a shelf-talker that declaimed at least 4 stars for each book. I picked up a book of poetry called “Salt.”, but there was no indication of provenance (the author’s name was not on the book). Flipping through the verse, I wasn’t grabbed. However, visiting the product page on Amazon itself, it seems I missed a good book. Context is everything.

At the center of the store are devices – the Fire stick, plugged into a large TV screen, Kindles, etc. Along one side, some cushioned benches with Kindle Fires nearby. Kindle Paperwhites are placed on shelves intermittently throughout the store, and additional Fires and other screens are always near, so one can look things up and (presumably) order them.

I bought two books on home organization – I’m in full nesting mode these days, for obvious reasons. The checkout process was, in addition to being cheerfully Seattle-ian, slick – my credit card was recognized; my receipt was emailed to me.

It is a perfectly ordinary bookstore. That may well be what Amazon is after. In which case…I don’t even know what to think. Thanks for putting everybody else out of business so you can do what they did but less remarkably?

reposted with permission


  1. fjtorres6 November, 2015

    Tough crowd.
    A bookstore stocked with nothing but highly rated books?
    All titles face forward with rating and review prominent?
    Online pricing?
    No muss, no fuss at checkout.
    An unremarkable shopping experience?
    Isn’t that remarkable unto itself?

  2. Mackay Bell6 November, 2015

    Yes, the small selection of books sounds like a big problem. It could only work if Amazon offered some sort of “catalog” that allowed people to order from a much larger selection and have them delivered quickly…

    Oh, they already do that! Never mind.

    So gee, focusing on a bunch of top selling books and providing a place to check out the latest Kindles sounds great.

    As for putting everyone else out of business, see above, small selection. Real bookworms who like to dig through stacks of obscure books will still have places to go. People who are looking for the Starbucks equivalent of a bookstore will probably prefer a small accessible selection to check out recent bestsellers and be on their way.

    Once again, the real challenge in the modern world is to get people in the habit of reading fiction in a world where they have many other choices in entertainment. Starbucks didn’t wipe out all the small coffee shops, it wiped out Winchell’s donuts. Plenty of small indy coffee shops still flourish. If Amazon starts building tons of bookstores, Barnes and Noble needs to be worried. There will still be plenty of room for bookstores that cater to specific tastes or offer broader selections (like used books). They might even end up doing better.


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