Amazon opens physical bookshop in Seattle

Amazon opens physical bookshop in Seattle

Amazon will open a bricks and mortar bookshop in Seattle this morning (3rd November) selling books at the same price as its website Amazon.com.

The company has been rumoured to be opening bricks and mortar store for some time and has now revealed it will do so in the University Village of the city of its birth, named Amazon Books.

Some displays at the Amazon bookstore will be based on customer ratings.

The company said it had applied “20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.”

The vice president of Amazon Books, Jennifer Cast, has also said she “hopes” it won’t be the company’s only store.

The 5,000 titles it will stock in the 5,500 sq ft space are based on customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on reader recommendation site Goodreads, and its curators’ assessments.

The shop will stock 5,000 titles across a range of genres.

“Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” the company said. “Prices at Amazon Books are the same as prices offered by Amazon.com, so you’ll never need to compare our online and in-store prices.”

The company added: “Amazon Books is a store without walls – there are thousands of books available in store and millions more available at Amazon.com.”

The store will display books face-out, with a “review card” containing its Amazon.com customer rating and a review underneath it.  “You can read the opinions and assessments of Amazon.com’s book-loving customers to help you find great books,” the company said. It added: “These are fantastic books! Most have been rated 4 stars or above, and many are award winners.”

Comments from Amazon reviewers will be featured in-store.

The company’s e-reader devices and tablets will also be on display at the store.

The Seattle Times has interviewed vice president of Amazon Books, Jennifer Cast, who said: “We’re completely focused on this bookstore. We hope this is not our only one. But we’ll see.”

The newspaper also said the bookshop employs 15 people, including librarians, retail clerks and even a receptionist from Amazon who loves reading. It will not act as a pickup location for Amazon products and it will also not stock Amazon Publishing titles that haven’t been picked up to sell by other booksellers, the newspaper reported.

UK booksellers have said they are not panicked by a major online rival opening a physical store in the US, but Nic Bottomley, founder of independent Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, said bookshops in the US and UK would be "dismayed" to see Amazon opening a physical store.

"I would be slow to panic if I was an American bookseller. I would have every faith in the brilliant landmark independent Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle seeing off the amateur physical booksellers of Amazon in any battle on that high-street in terms of book-selling," Bottomley said. "I think Elliot Bay is one of the finest bookshops in the world. And, especially if it is going to base its displays on algorithms as opposed to the skills of booksellers – which is what it looks like it is proposing – I am sure that Elliot Bay will still be here a lot longer than the Amazon physical shop."

However, he added: “By the same token, I am sure many bookshops in the US – and by extension here – will be dismayed to see to see Amazon breaking into the physical bookseller market in view of how many physical bookshops its been indirectly or directly responsible for having to close through trading in a way that prevents a level competitive playing field. There is a negative irony there.”

 Sheila O'Reilly from Dulwich Books added: "I'm not necessarily worried actually. They’re probably just going to pile them high, sell them cheap on the high street… I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to work out here in the UK. It might work in the States.

"The interest is how they’re going to curate it, how they’re going to create the stock. I’m not sure how it’s going to work for them, because it’s so computer-based and online."