Wednesday, November 4, 2015

E-tailer coming full circle 20 years after
launching. It's taken 20 years, but Amazon.
com has discovered the benefits of brick-and-mortar bookstores. The
online retailer, which went into business in 1995 mostly selling books online,
is opening its first ever physical bookstore on Tuesday. The shop, called
Amazon Books, is located in the University Village area of Seattle, Amazon's
hometown. "Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon. com. We've
applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that
integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping," said Jennifer
Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, in a letter to customers. In
addition to books, the Amazon store will offer a place for customers to try
out Amazon devices such as Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet gadgets.
Amazon staff will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate the products,
much as counterparts at Apple's stores do and as Barnes &
Noble does with its "Nook" areas.
David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images But
Amazon Books won't be your typical bookstore, For one thing, Amazon will use
data from its web site like customer ratings, sales totals, and Goodread
popularity ratings to decide which books to stock. It will, however, also
consult flesh and blood book experts to curate the selection. For another,
Amazon's store will present books face out, rather than spine out, and put
up a sign for each one with its Amazon. com rating and an actual customer
review. There is a certain irony to Amazon's embrace of brick and mortar
bookstores after all these years. The retailer's ascent eliminated many
bookstores, notably the Borders chain that went out of business in 2011. The
online giant now commands a market share of about 30% of books sold in the U.
S. Barnes & Noble has fared better than other bookstore chains,
and its core book sales are on the upswing again. Still, the largest U.
S. bookstore chain, with about 650 stores, has been closing about 20 stores
annually in recent years to steady its business. But Amazon's move also
comes at a time when e-book growth appears to be slowing, with rates similar
to those of physical books. And so Amazon will come first circle if this
store, which is not a pop-up, succeeds and the company opens more: growing via
old fashioned bookstores of the kind it has helped put out of business.
This story originally appeared on Fortune More good reads from Fortune:
• See China's first jet that will compete directly with Boeing's 737
• Amazon Is Opening An Actual, Real-Life Bookstore
• Protesters occupy Airbnb HQ on eve of San Francisco vote

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