Amazon has been blamed by the high street for waging a war on physical shops but now, 20 years after starting life as an online bookseller, the company is opening its first bookstore.
Amazon Books opens in Seattle today and customers will be able to thumb through the pages of its books before buying. This old-fashioned move is a permanent one, not a pop-up, and devices such as Kindles, Fire Tablets and the Echo will also be on sale.
Of course, this is still Amazon, so digital will be playing a big part. Website data on sales figures and popularity ratings will be used to decided which books to stock, but the first photos suggest that in all other aspects it will be like any other book shop.
Placards featuring customer reviews from Amazon.com will be placed in front of each book, along with a star rating.
Books will be displayed with their covers facing outwards to attract buyers with cover art and a special section by the till will highlight books with 4.8 stars or more.
In-store prices will match those online, so physical customers won’t be missing out by buying from an actual human at the till.
Amazon Books will be open every day of the week except for holidays and can be found in the city’s University Village. Seattle has the most book readers per capita out of any US city, Time reports, which might explain the decision.
Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, said: “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.”
Amazon has been experimenting with physical stores recently, setting up pickup and drop-off locations and even planning a grocery store.
If the bookshop proves a success, you can probably expect to see one appearing in a city near you soon.
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