Amazon shuttered five of its Amazon Books retail stores over the past couple weeks so the interiors could be renovated and updated. Both of the stores in my area closed, and over the weekend the Bethesda store reopened. (BTW, there is also a rumor of another store on 14th St in DC, but only a rumor.)
They hadn't quite finished cleaning up when I visited today (there was a hydraulic lift and other equipment right outside the door) but aside from a couple empty Kindle Fire endcaps and two paper signs in the children's section, it was fully operational.
I only found a couple articles about this location when it opened last June; it seems the novelty had worn off since the DC store opened a few months before. There are few photos showing the interior of the Bethesda store, so it's hard to tell exactly how it changed.
I did notice a few changes. though. For starters, the tables in the center of the store all lost their signs in the renovation; this really made it the store look less cluttered.
There's also a much larger electronics section. Ring and Samsung each have their own table, and what used to be displays against the wall is now pegboard with basic accessories (such as USB cables, audio cables, etc), Kindle Fires, speakers, and web-connected spy equipment (aka smart home devices).
I also noticed when browsing the earlier coverage that there were a few kid-sized seats in the children's section; they were replaced by the table in the center:
When it comes to the books section of the store, a reader told me (thanks, Edward!) that it was smaller and that there were books set spine out. I can't confirm the former but I can confirm the latter.
One of most noteworthy details when Amazon opened its first bookstore was that all the books were displayed with the covers facing out. This went against standard practice and maximized each book's exposure while at the same time limiting the number of titles Amazon could stock.
That policy has changed.
BTW, if you zoom in, you may notice another major change to the store; Amazon has replaced the cardboard shelf labels with E-ink shelf labels.
Despite my best efforts, I could not identify the manufacturer.
Everyone is probably going to get really excited about the shelf labels but to be honest I was a little surprised when Amazon opened its first bookstore without them; they are the perfect solution to Amazon's policy of tying its brick-and-mortar prices to its website.
Amazon's prices fluctuate daily, so if you wanted to check a price before; you had to scan a book with the Amazon app. Now you can just look at the shelf label, which Amazon can update whenever it wants.