Amazon Puts Mini E-Book Stores In Drugstores In Washington State

Back in November, Amazon did something unexpected: the company opened a real-life bookstore in its hometown of Seattle. The company also has a Kindle and Fire showroom at its new package pickup point at UC Berkeley. Amazon clearly wants to move into real-life retail, in some ways, and they have an intriguing new product spotted on drugstore shelves in Washington state.

If you want the satisfaction of giving someone a specific book as a gift and handing them a physical object, yet know that they do all of their reading on a Kindle, there’s now an option for you. Amazon is testing Kindle E-Book Cards at the Bartell Drugs chain in Washington state. If a Gift Card Mall is like a mall, then this is like a bookstore next to the mall.

As gift cards go, these have some interesting features. The cards have a face value of the list price of the book, but Amazon generally doesn’t sell their books for the list price. The card for The Martian, for example, says “$15.00” but the book’s price on Kindle now is $8.99. That isn’t as unfair as it seems at first: Todd Bishop over at GeekWire explains that you’ll get the extra $6.01 back as an Amazon credit to spend on anything else. That doesn’t work for the cards that let you purchase a Kindle Unlimited subscription, since their price is fixed.

What if you don’t want the book that the gift-giver chose for you, or you already read it? That’s not a problem, either. You can just swap the balance for an Amazon gift card instead, and the gift-giver will never find out. Unless they corner you the next Thanksgiving and want to discuss the finer points of The Martian: reject gifts of books with care.

Amazon’s other physical retail test: A mini bookstore for Kindle ebooks [GeekWire]
Updated: Amazon is Testing Title-Specific Kindle Gift Cards at Drug Stores in Washington State [The Digital Reader]