Amazon’s First Store Opened In Seattle Today

Amazon’s first store opened in Washington today. In a twist on things old and new, the internet giant brings the public Amazon’s first store after 20 years of strong online sales.

Amazon is combining the data it gets from the online site, like reviews and ratings, with a physical shop favored by book browsers who like to sip coffee and read. Unlike traditional book stores, the books are displayed like an Amazon webpage. They’ll be accompanied by reviews and ratings right next to them. Instead of constantly having to check reviews on your cell phone to find out if you should buy a book, Amazon will bring the information and data to you, right there. The books they decide to sell in the store will also be a result of website data.

But Amazon Books can’t totally be considered Amazon’s first store. The retailer previously went offline with their massive book business at a major American university. As the Guardian reports, they opened a store at Purdue University where students drop off and pick up textbooks from lockers. That isn’t comparable to this new store, which is stocked with shelves of Amazon’s best-selling products. The university experiment is more like a staffed version of the Amazon Locker service, in which you use a code to open the locker and reveal your order.

In a press release obtained by Quartz, Amazon stated their philosophy for the new store.

“We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.”

Amazon is combining the best of both worlds for book lovers. By offering Amazon’s discounted prices within the comforts of a physical store, they have created a place sure to have bookworms rejoicing. The bookworms who sit in the aisles and lay in the corridors to savor their latest stories in the local Barnes & Noble now have another option.

Amazon will still have its array of electronic reading devices lined up for you to purchase, just as Barnes & Noble offers its Nook reading devices in its physical stores. But Amazon opening its first store is replacing an industry it helped kill off. Barnes & Noble has seen sales slipping, and has had to close major locations. Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, and Borders have all long closed their doors. If Amazon hadn’t come along and decided to get into the non-digital realm, we may have soon run out of iconic national book chains.

The Seattle mall where Amazon is opening its first store was once a mall inhabited by a massive Barnes & Noble that had to close in 2011. Aside from this major step in Amazon’s business strategy, Amazon might open locations to pick up groceries that you order online, even though those places will contain no actual shopping spaces, just a big warehouse pick-up point. If the rumors are accurate, Amazon could be reversing the grocery delivery model that it and other retailers have set, including AmazonFresh and FreshDirect. Those services are limited to more densely populated areas. Amazon’s new model could make more sense outside metropolitan areas, where driving to a pick-up point would save Amazon the massive delivery costs. It’s just another way Amazon is disrupting the retail landscape.

Pretty soon Amazon Books may be the hottest spot in town to hang out alone or with friends. A New York City location is rumored to be on the horizon. And if you need a benchmark, just look at the Apple Store. It’s hard to remember a time before it existed. Amazon’s first store has a good chance at success.

[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]