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Two decades after Amazon launched as an online bookseller – a move that eventually led to many brick-and-mortar bookshops going out of business – the company is about to open its first ever physical bookstore in its hometown of Seattle.
Simply called Amazon Books, the store is located in the city’s University Village shopping center and will have between 5000 to 6000 books on its shelves. It will use data from from Amazon.com - such as customer ratings and sales figures - to decide which books to stock. The store’s curators will also have a say on what books are sold.
In addition to selling books, customers will also be able to test drive Amazon’s devices in the store. Products across the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV and Fire Tablet series will be available to try out, with Amazon “device experts” on hand to answer questions and show off the products’ features.
Each book in the 5,500 sq. ft. store will be displayed facing outwards, rather than spine out, and have placards beneath them showing their Amazon.com rating and customer reviews taken straight from the online site. Additionally, the books in the store will be priced the same as those on Amazon.com.
Amazon says the store will be open seven days a week, except for holidays. The company has reassured people that Amazon Books isn’t a pop-up shop and that it will be permanently located in the University Village. It will open today at 9.30 a.m. PST.
"We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping," says Jennifer Cast, the company's vice president behind the new effort. "The books in our store are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads [another Amazon-owned website], and our curators’ assessments."
Amazon isn’t the only tech giant to open a physical shop. Apple has 460 stores in 17 countries, and Microsoft added to its 110 US locations when it opened a flagship store in Manhattan in September.
Amazon couldn’t say if this will be the first of many physical bookstores for the company, but should Amazon Books be a success then it’s likely that we’ll see more of them popping up across the country.