Now that Amazon is opening a bookshop in Seattle in a move it described as a “physical extension” of its business, could this be the start of more?
It will stock the most popular books from Amazon.com, and the prices will be the same as those offered on the website. Customers will also be able to try out Amazon’s devices, including the Kindle and its Fire TV.
Rival bookseller Waterstones said it hoped the venture “falls flat on its face”.
Amazon Books vice-president Jennifer Cast announced the online giant would open its “real, wooden doors” at the Seattle University Village on 3 November.
“Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com. We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping,” she said.
The shop will stock 5,000 books in the 5,500-sq-ft (510-sq-m) space, with the majority chosen on the basis of customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on reader recommendation site Goodreads, and the shop’s curators’ assessments.
James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, was unimpressed, particularly with the decision to display books mainly “face out”.
“With only 5,000 titles in a space in which Waterstones would put over 10 times that number, it appears to be a tentative dip of the toe into physical bookselling waters.
Clearly, however, a skim of the bestsellers away from true bookshops would be very damaging: we very much hope that it falls flat on its face.”
Waterstones recently said that it would stop selling Amazon’s Kindle in its stores.
Tom Tivnan, features editor at the Bookseller magazine, questioned why the online giant was experimenting with a bricks-and-mortar store.
“It goes against the Amazon model of being a never-ending bookshop that is not reliant on having books on shelves,” he said.
“It is unclear whether they will roll it out across the US or UK.
“I can see it going to a limited number of cities like New York or possibly London, but I don’t think it will have a huge impact.”
The lines between online and offline are becoming increasingly blurred.
In the spring, Google launched a shop based at Currys PC World on London’s Tottenham Court Road, stocking a range of Google products, including Android phones and tablets and Chromebook laptops.
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