In the last year, there have been rumors that Amazon planned to open a gadget store and package pickup center in Manhattan near the Empire State Building, and that they planned to buy the leases of some RadioShack stores when that retailer declared bankruptcy. Neither of these happened. This morning, Amazon is opening an entirely different sort of real-life store. They’re selling books.
Yes, Amazon is opening a bookstore in the University Village neighborhood of its hometown of Seattle. Even the same-day delivery services that the company is experimenting with can’t compete with the experience of picking up a book, thumbing through it, paying for it, and then walking out the door with it immediately.
Amazon’s plans for this new endeavor include stocking the shelves using data from its e-commerce side to figure out what sort of books people in that area of Seattle want, and stocking the store with them in addition to the standard best-sellers.
The project has been mysterious: official paperwork called it “Ann Bookstore” to keep the actual bookseller’s identity secret for a little longer. The newsletter Shelf Awareness figured it out, though, and outed Amazon as the real company behind the new store.
Shelf Awareness reports that Amazon at least approached and tried to recruit employees from local independent bookstores. In the store, they’ve put their own twist on the “staff picks” cards that you usually see on the shelves at your local independent bookstore: there’s a shelf of favorite books curated by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and shelf tags also include a book or an item’s average star rating from Amazon.
On the shelves, all books will sit so their covers face out, instead of shelving books with their spines facing out so more of them fit. Their goal isn’t to fit a many titles as possible in a store space: if you have a specific book in mind, there’s a website that store employees can suggest.
The store, located in a former sushi restaurant, has about 5,000 square feet of retail space. The average Barnes & Noble store is five times that size, but it’s a normal size for an independent bookstore. It will be the only single-location, small bookstore in the world whose owner doesn’t loathe Amazon.
Amazon opens its first real bookstore — at U-Village [Seattle Times]
Amazon Opening Bookstore in Seattle? [Shelf Awareness]