In a bit of irony, Amazon is opening up its first physical bookstore on Tuesday, two decades after launching the online book-sales effort that helped make it an Internet retail giant.
Like traditional bookstores, Amazon Books will feature wooden shelves stocked with about 6,000 titles, according to The Seattle Times, which got an early tour of the store in Seattle’s University Park. The company plans to analyze the troves of data its customers generate to determine which titles will appeal most to shoppers in its bookstore, perhaps avoiding the challenge of unsold inventory.
“We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, wrote in a company blog post. “The books in our store are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments.”
With the move, Amazon begins selling books alongside other physical book sellers, businesses that have bemoaned the behemoth’s ability to undercut bookstores’ revenue by offering books at a discount. Some booksellers have even requested an antitrust inquiry by the US Justice Department, saying that the Seattle-based company’s business practices hurt the book industry.
Amazon certainly isn’t the first tech giant to go the brick-and-mortar route. Apple opened its first Apple Store in 2001 to showcase its computers and mobile devices. Microsoft, which has 110 physical stores across North America, opened a flagship store in Manhattan in September. Google and Samsung have also tinkered with the idea to some degree.
The titles in Amazon’s bookstore will be offered at the same price as those online. But in addition to books, shoppers at Amazon’s bookstore will also get to peruse the company’s devices, including Kindles, the Echo, the Fire TV, and Fire Tablets.
Might there be additional brick-and-mortar stores in the company’s future? Amazon couldn’t say.
“We’ll see,” said Deborah Bass, an Amazon spokeswoman. ‘We’re certainly excited about this one.”
Updated at 9:20 p.m. PTwith Amazon comment.