Amazon Opens a New Chapter in its Retail History
Remember that bookstore that Amazon was rumored to be building in Seattle?
It officially launched today, and is opening tomorrow.
Amazon has sent out a letter to their Seattle area customers with the news that Amazon’s first bookstore, located at in the University Village shopping center at 4601 26th Ave NE, is no longer rumor or speculation (you can find the letter here).
Unlike Amazon’s past retail efforts, which focused on vending machines, delivery lockers, and pickup/dropoff unstores, the new Amazon Books has actual books in stock on its shelves, as well as Kindle ereaders, Fire tablets, and other Amazon hardware.
The Seattle Times got an early look at the store, and they report that the store won’t double as a pickup/drop-off location. It’s strictly a retail store, and according to Jennifer Cast, the VP of Amazon Books, the store won’t be stocked solely on data. "It’s data with heart,” she told ST. "We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it."
The books carried in the 7,500 square foot store are chosen based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and Amazon’s curators’ assessments. All of the books are face out on the shelf, and under each book is a presentation card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review.
Amazon is also including a special staff favorites section that will change periodically. For the opening, the section includes a few of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ favorite books, including The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Traps by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.
The books will be sold at the same price as found online.
To put it simply, Amazon is taking what they’ve learned from twenty years of selling books online and is adapting it to the offline world. In a time where most bookstores arguably are no longer bookstores (just look at how much B&N floor space is devoted to toys), Amazon is going to show their competitors just how bookstores are supposed to work.
Or at least that is what Amazon is hoping; whether it will work out is a different matter.
Amazon has chosen an expensive location for its first store. University Village is an upscale shopping center that used to be the home to a Barnes & Noble store (it moved out four years ago when its lease expired and rent went up).
With the high rent, the odds are stacked against this store being a success based on the numbers, but Amazon has been known to run pilot operations before expanding.
Unfortunately for us, Cast declined to reveal Amazon’s plans, including possible locations. “We’re completely focused on this bookstore,” Cast told SA. “We hope this is not our only one. But we’ll see.”