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The Amazon Store

I’m in Seattle for work, and the Amazon store opened while I was here. So I ran over to check it out.

I didn’t bother to take pictures. It’s wholly unremarkable, except for the preternatural cheeriness of the staff – a quality I find in the staff of EVERY Seattle establishment I go to. (I’m from New York. Friendliness, the genuine desire to help, the quite sincere hope that one has found everything one needs – I’m not used to this. I HAVE BOUNDARIES, PEOPLE.)

The aisles are, as reported, rather narrow. When one wants to look at a bunch of books, one doesn’t want to have to excuse oneself or squeeeeeeeeze past the other person who is looking at PRECISELY WHAT ONE WANTS TO BE LOOKING AT ONESELF.

Obviously, with every book face-out, inventory is minimal. And every book I saw there had a shelf-talker that declaimed at least 4 stars for each book. I picked up a book of poetry called “Salt.”, but there was no indication of provenance (the author’s name was not on the book). Flipping through the verse, I wasn’t grabbed. However, visiting the product page on Amazon itself, it seems I missed a good book. Context is everything.

At the center of the store are devices – the Fire stick, plugged into a large TV screen, Kindles, etc. Along one side, some cushioned benches with Kindle Fires nearby. Kindle Paperwhites are placed on shelves intermittently throughout the store, and additional Fires and other screens are always near, so one can look things up and (presumably) order them.

I bought two books on home organization – I’m in full nesting mode these days, for obvious reasons. The checkout process was, in addition to being cheerfully Seattle-ian, slick – my credit card was recognized; my receipt was emailed to me.

It is a perfectly ordinary bookstore. That may well be what Amazon is after. In which case…I don’t even know what to think. Thanks for putting everybody else out of business so you can do what they did but less remarkably?

8 thoughts on “The Amazon Store

    1. Speaking just for me, I thought the Ars Technica criticism was premature. It was the first day – I’d be impressed that anything worked. It’s at least mildly interesting that both the Ars reporter and Laura actually bought books while they were there. That’s kind of the point of a store.

  1. As someone who also struggles with narrow aisles in retail settings, your reactions made me laugh. But, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Amazon is “putting everyone else out of business”.

    ABA membership has stabilized in recent years, during a time when Amazon’s share of market grew and eBooks became a real thing. The fall-off in indie bookstores came largely in the period after Barnes & Noble and Borders, among others, introduced the big-box bookstore.

    The independent retailers who remain know how to compete against that model, I think, and they offer things that Amazon, whether online or now in person, cannot deliver. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy for them or that Amazon doesn’t have an impact, but I think the ecosystem is complicated, as you’ve told me 🙂

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