Internet giant Amazon has entered the brick and mortar realm as it opened its first physical bookstore Tuesday, November 3 in Seattle, Washington — but the new bookstore comes with a twist.
According to NBC News, Amazon, the company that brought other book retailers to the edge of collapse, will start selling books based on reviews and stars, which customers can read at the physical bookstore. Along with each book, readers can see ratings, along with customer reviews, drawn directly from the Amazon site.
While reviews have always promoted books to new readers, making online ratings available at a physical location is a new concept for a bookstore. The new physical extension of Amazon online also stocks books based on pre-orders, another novel idea for a bookstore.
“The bookstores I love celebrate reading,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, confessed according to NBC News.
The Amazon vice president then queried, “What better way to celebrate reading than to have the voices of readers under our books?”
The Guardian reports that the new Amazon bookstore will stock about 6,000 titles, and in addition to customer online reviews, the popularity of books on Goodreads, as well as curators’ assessments, will also dictate which books are sold at the physical bookstore.
Amazon assured customers on Monday, just a day before the bookstore opened, that the prices of books both online and at the brick-and-mortar bookstore will remain the same.
Amazon spokesperson Jennifer Cast told reporters that the company’s “goal is to do a great job selling lots of books.” When it comes to the books themselves at the physical store, they are displayed “face-out,” and Cast revealed that most “have been rated four stars or above and many are award winners,” reports the Guardian.
Customers can also test drive any Amazon electronic device, such as the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet, at the new bookstore.
According to the Guardian, the new bookstore comes a month after other retailers announced they would stop selling the Kindle. James Daunt, managing director of bookstore Waterstone, said their 280 retail locations were “getting virtually no sales” of the Kindle. He has since turned over that floor space to paperback and hardback books.
Amazon’s physical location, called Amazon Books, is located in Seattle’s University Village, near the headquarters of Amazon online.
According to Cast, customers will have a different experience at Amazon Books.
“We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping” to give customers the best experience possible at the physical bookstore, Cast said, reports the Guardian.
Even though Amazon Books is the company’s first foray into physical retail, according to the Guardian, Amazon has slowly been moving towards that business model by launching lockers and pick-up points. At these physical pick-up points, customers can collect their items.
Amazon has also launched physical kiosks, where customers can buy electronics like Kindles, so opening a physical bookstore is a natural next step for the company that has dominated book sales for the past 20 years.
The Guardian reports that with “the lines between physical and online becoming more blurred,” and with physical retailers like Walmart gaining market share online, “it makes sense for Amazon to experiment with physical outlets,” according to Neil Saunders at Conlumino.
Physical stores like Walmart have a distinct advantage over online retailers like Amazon because they can use brick-and-mortar stores to deliver orders directly to customers for faster pickup. According to Saunders, this “gives them a strategic advantage over Amazon and is something that [Amazon] needs to defend against,” making a physical bookstore a logical experiment for Amazon.
A physical bookstore will also keep Amazon at the “forefront of consumers’ minds,” reports the Guardian. The new Amazon bookstore is expected to be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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