In Amazon’s more than two decades of existence, it has changed the face of retailing across the globe. Its very presence has been blamed for the disappearance of many small bookstores.
Now the e-tailing behemoth has decided to switch gears and open its first brick-and-mortar store that ironically sells the same thing it got started with two decades ago, a product that many feel Amazon has helped devalue: books.
The store opens Tuesday in a shopping center in Seattle’s University Park and has between 5,000 and 6,000 titles on its shelves, according to the The Seattle Times. Some of them will be bestsellers and others will be books that have received stellar customer reviews on the site.
A number of those reviews will be seen displayed beneath the corresponding books, which will all be facing out to be seen by customers rather than lined up with just their spines showing as is typically done. Amazon doesn’t need to cram a ton of books into the 5,500-square-foot retail space.
One thing this little bookstore won’t be hurting for is data on what sells and what customers want. That kind of knowledge has led the store to include some sections that aren’t found in other brick-and-mortar bookstores, such as “Most Wished-For Cookbooks” and “Award Winners, 4.5 Stars & Above, Age 6-12.”
“It’s data with heart,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, told the Seattle Times. “We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.” In a blog post, Cast wrote that the store selects books to sell in the store “based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads and our curators’ assessments.”
It remains to be seen if this will be Amazon’s only brick-and-mortar location. The brand also has opened a pickup and dropoff shop at Purdue University that allows students to snag their online orders at a secure location, CNN reports. It plans to open similar stores at other institutions of higher learning. But the Seattle store is a whole different story. If the store brings in the dollars, get ready for Amazon Bookstores to start popping up in a strip mall near you.
As CNET points out, Amazon isn’t the first tech giant to open its own brick-and-mortar store. Apple opened its first location in 2001 and changed the way many retailers approach the customer experience. Microsoft has 110 stores in North America and only opened its flagship in Manhattan two months ago.
One tech giant that has decided not to bother with brick-and-mortar retail, at least for now, is Google. According to Crain’s New York, Google has “abandoned plans to open its first-ever store in New York City” after it spent $6 million renovating a space. It is now trying to sublease the space for more than $2 million annually.