Amazon may have driven bookstores out of business with its practices but the company is now to open its first physical bookstore.
Residents of Seattle will now be able to browse for a book in an Amazon store rather than just online. Customers can now nose around the first permanent bookstore ever opened by the retailer.
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Amazon Books offers shoppers same prices as online
The location opened on Tuesday morning in a block which it shares with a Banana Republic and a Pottery Barn. A press release sent out announcing the opening of Amazon Books contained information about a street address and parking facilities, neither of which immediately spring to mind when thinking of Amazon.
The Amazon website launched 20 years ago, and changed the face of retail. Amazon Books will attempt to build on the lessons learned from the company’s online business.
Amazon was responsible for allowing consumers to check reviews and ratings for products, before searching for lower prices online. Now the company has announced that its physical store will be stocked with books that receive positive online reviews, while the prices will be the same offline as online.
Traditional bookstore feel but novel touches abound
“These are fantastic books! Most have been rated 4 stars or above, and many are award winners,” according to a note from Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast announcing today’s opening.
The store is located in a shopping center on the edge of the University of Washington’s campus. It is comparatively small for a bookstore, taking up only 5,500 square feet. Barnes & Noble and Borders stores used to take up over five times as much space.
Wooden shelves and hardwood floors give Amazon Books a similar look and feel to traditional locations, while the children’s section is carpeted and boasts comfy chairs for young readers.
The covers of the books are displayed rather than the spines, helping customers to see the full selection of titles. Online reviews are printed below the books on small cards which also display the average number of stars and the number of reviews the book has received.
Other Amazon devices on display in store
In other sections of the store there are titles arranged according to popular search filters, such as by rating, best-selling or popular pre-order books. The store will also serve as a promotional space for other Amazon products, offering the opportunity to try out devices like the Kindle e-book readers, Echo controller and Fire TV.
Although it may be the first physical book store, Amazon Books is not the company’s first venture into the offline world. This year it launched Amazon Home Services, which offers painting and cleaning services, in addition to gardening and other services.
According to Amazon the new store will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas but open every other day of the year. The irony of a physical Amazon store was not lost on The Seattle Times, which reminds readers how the company’s success was due in part to the fact that “it could undercut physical retailers on price because it didn’t have brick-and-mortar locations.”
Now it appears that Amazon has seen the benefit of physical storefronts, which offer “the instant gratification of owning an item the second it was purchased, as well as the personal touch of a knowledgeable sales clerk.”