Amazon, the company that helped put so many brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business, is… opening a new brick-and-mortar bookstore. The new storefront, Amazon Books at University Village, will stock approximately 6,000 titles and is located in an upscale shopping center between branches of Banana Republic and Restoration Hardware.
“Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” said Amazon books VP Jennifer Cast in a statement. “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping. The books in our store are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments. These are fantastic books! Most have been rated 4 stars or above, and many are award winners.”
According to the Seattle Times’s Jay Greene, the new bookstore will comprise 5,500 square feet of retail space and another 2,000 square feet of storage. Greene also reported that Amazon has been hiring employees from local bookstores. Another Seattle Times reporter, Rachel Lerman, noted that Amazon has been experimenting with physical kiosks for book pickups at college campuses.
The bookstores point to an ongoing challenge for Amazon: The retailer has been so successful at putting brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business (a trend accelerated by both the economic crisis and poor business decisions at both Borders and Barnes & Noble) that it now finds itself without physical showcases for its sprawling product inventory, which now includes Amazon-branded Kindles, Fire tablets and smartphones, the Echo smart wireless speaker, home goods, and, soon, apparel.