Amazon is building bookstores that look like they were designed by an AI(*), but Beijing is going one better. The Beijing International Book Mall is now home to a completely automated bookstore.
From The Beijinger:
Late night shoppers looking with a need to buy books will have their very specific conditions met in Beijing as 20 new staffless bookstores that will operate 24 hours a day are expected to open throughout the city this year.
Book-selling franchise Xinhua opened the first of the planned stores last month in east-end Tongzhou. Featuring an automated system with no regular human staff, the all-day bookstores are planned to be built at Beijing universities, government offices, and shopping malls.
Like other staffless stores, the "Xinhua Lifestyle Store" requires all customers to register their real names using their WeChat accounts and have their faces scanned before entering. And because the store has access to all their users' purchasing information, it can offer "precise and humanized" book suggestions to all of its customers.
Despite its convenience, the staffless store faces a number of drawbacks. For one thing, the 30-square-meter shop doesn't offer a wide selection of books. The store's book selection is limited to popular bestsellers that aren't regularly updated. And, if customers are able to hold off their purchases until normal business hours, they would find a wider selection of books at the 80,000-square-meter Beijing International Book Mall, inside which the staffless bookstore is located.
That doesn't sound appealing at all.
In an age where anyone in a hurry can download a book rather than get a paper copy, is there really a need for this kind of store?
P.S. I have visited an Amazon Books, and I am working on a post.