Amazon opens physical bookstore in Seattle

After years of dominance in the online and then e-book market, challenging physical rivals such as Waterstones on the high street, Amazon.com has opened a physical bookstore in Seattle.

The new store is the first large scale physical shop that Amazon has opened, and could well be the template for shops around the world. Basing the format on the experience of the online giant’s worldwide sales of books, Amazon is trialling the concept in its home city of Seattle. The Seattle University Village shop, with ‘real, wooden doors’, opened yesterday.

The shop is 510 square metres in size and will stock 5,000 books, chosen on basis of success in online sales. One shelf for example will be bestsellers from Amazon’s online sales, while books will have customer reviews written about them alongside their position in the shop.

James Daunt, Managing Director of UK bookseller Waterstones suggests that in 510 square metres, Waterstones would sell over 50,000 titles. Not surprisingly he said of this attempt to take on high street bookstores, “Clearly, however, a skim of the bestsellers away from true bookshops would be very damaging: we very much hope that it falls flat on its face.”

Waterstones and other large scale bookstore chains have taken a kicking over the years from Amazon’s online successes, and only recently Waterstones withdrew Kindle e-book readers from its shelves, claiming that they were not achieving the sales required to be viable.

Amazon has had physical kiosks in several cities around the world in the past, where people could pick up gadgets such as the Kindle and Kindle Fire. It also runs a parcel locker network in the US but has this is a first foray into opening a physical shop. It will be interesting to see the impact of such a venture both for Amazon itself and that on the high street.


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