Amazon Bookstore: Bringing the retail giant back to its roots
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From online to a physical store, Amazon continues its pursuit of opening more bookstores. Now, it is in New York City.
Located in Columbus Circle, the 4,000 square foot location would be Amazon’s fourth brick and mortar store. Stocked with highly rated books as well as Amazon’s appliances, the bookstore would bring classic bookstores into the digital age.
So what does that mean for us? For students, this is a chance to bring back old fashioned pleasure reading. Amazon has gone to great lengths to make sure all of the books in stock are rated 4 stars or higher, with many of them placed alongside online reviews. Books are organized and displayed in an attempt to draw you in, with a better rounded selection of, say, mystery novels than you would see on Amazon’s ‘recommended for you’ list. While the Amazon website may have a larger selection of books for you to look over, the Amazon bookstore focuses on quality over quantity.
“I think we should welcome any new bookstores,” said John Hanc, NYIT communications professor and author. “I think for those millennials who haven’t discovered what makes bookstores special will see what we grew up with.” Professor Hanc went on to show optimism for students’ increased reading, saying that “the youth of today will read if the book really captured our attention”, citing the Harry Potter series as an example.
He did, however, show some reservation over the stores 4 star policy “You’re going to weed out a number of books people might want to read.” Still, he ended on an optimistic note for the store’s future.
While the store is a great encouragement to new readers or book lovers, the average student may not feel a great impact from the Amazon bookstore. For students who live on Long Island, the bookstore likely won’t be worth a trip into the city for, especially with the online shopping convenience Amazon already provides. Students who live in or near New York City may find more enjoyment out of it, but the store doesn’t provide too much of a difference than any other bookstore does (albeit with less Amazon products). When asked what they thought about the bookstore, most students showed moderate interest in the store, but none were interested in actually going to it.
Amazon has been attempting to create a showroom store; where the actual on shelf products double as a greater advertisement for the online store. Similar to Apple Stores, the store allows customers to have a hands-on interaction with Amazon products. Amazon’s Kindle and Fire TV Stick are all available to try, encouraging shoppers to further immerse themselves in what Professor Hanc called the “Amazon Culture,” that they are creating.
According to Marketing Land, the New York City location would be the fourth brick and mortar bookstore Amazon has made. Having started in Seattle’s University Village, the online titan followed its success by opening stores in Oregon’s Washington Square and California’s Westfield UTC. Amazon doesn’t intend to stop there. Recently, they added two more locations in Massachusetts, one in Illinois, and another location in New Jersey.
Naturally, Amazon’s bookstores have been met with some resistance. Amazon wide selection of books online has often been accused of damaging bookstore’s business. The announcement of a bookstore often leads to some backlash, as mom and pop stores feel threatened by the business giant. These shops often point out that they form a community through their books, a relationship that the corporation wouldn’t be able to replicate. Still, store loyalty would likely keep the mom and pop stores in business. The fact that Amazon only focuses on what is widely appealing rather than more niche products will also support smaller stores.
According to the Amazon’s website, it initially started as an online bookstore back in 1994, beginning in company founder Jeff Bezos’ garage. After a successful start, the company began rapidly expanding into more media options such as music CDs and VHS tapes before moving into regular household items. As the company and its brand became famous, Amazon began creating its own original products as well, such as their Kindle e-reader, original Amazon TV shows, their Fire TV stick, and the helpful AI Alexa. Following the success of their bookstores, Amazon next plans to open another type of physical store, Amazon Go. This is intended to be a grocery store that uses advanced sensors to tell what items you’ve chosen while charging your Amazon account for the bill, allowing you to pick the products and walk out.
As the company that first brought book sales into the modern age, Amazon sets another precedent for bookstores. With a focus on mass appeal over a depth of products, Amazon has begun turning bookstores into a place for everyone rather than just heavy readers. Amazon aims to create an immersive interaction between the physical and the virtual, with New York City’s bookstore being another step in that journey.
“I think a lot of people are going to want to see this store,” Hanc told the Slate, “and I’m one of them.”