Have you heard? Maybe you’ve even seen, if you live in or have visited one of the twelve cities where they exist. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is moving into the brick-and-mortar market with a new chain of bookstores, called Amazon Books.
I need to be completely honest here: When I first heard this news, I was excited. Regardless of their motives, in an era where we continuously see physical bookstores close, it was refreshing to see new ones opening. For years it seemed like paperback and hardcover books were becoming things of the past, and it was saddening. Any news that could reverse the trend (like hearing that physical books were making a comeback) was certainly welcomed by me.
But then, after the initial effect wore off, I stopped to think about it a little more.
In an effort to utilize the successful strategies that its online bookstore has implemented, these new Amazon Books stores will feature a limited selection of titles — all of which will have covers facing the customer — to be customized through Amazon.com shopping behaviors.
These bookstores, which began in the Pacific Northwest and spread to the East Coast this past year, are aimed at merging “the benefits of offline and online shopping to help you find books and devices you’ll love,” according to the official website.
QUICK READ: Are physical books making a comeback?
Some critics, however, see them as a way for Amazon to continue to run its competitors, like Barnes & Noble, out of business. The resulting fear is that the online giant will create a virtual monopoly on the book market.
Personally, I have nothing against Amazon. It offers an exceptional service at competitive pricing, and it has certainly given people increased access to books of all kinds through its Kindles, affordable prices, marketplace feature and publishing options. But if you’ve read many of my articles on this site, you’ll also know that I have a strong affinity for physical bookstores, and if this business tactic leads, in any way, to the detriment of those stores then I will have to re-evaluate my opinion.
At the end of the day, I am a supporter of those who support the advancement of books.
11 thoughts on “Amazon bookstores: Good or bad for the industry?”
I think there needs to be a variety of bookstores. The freight from US to Aus is too expensive so I don’t buy from Amazon for that reason.
Interesting perspective. I didn’t think of that. I’m definitely in favor of more bookstores!
I would like to think this is a good thing, but without knowing their ultimate objectives all we can do is wait and see. If there were one near me I would definitely want to pay a visit.
Wouldn’t it be cool (for all of us eBook-only authors) if their stores were also equipped for on-demand printing. I could order up any eBook I really liked and still have a hard copy if I wanted one! Amazon wouldn’t mind the extra sales, I’m sure.
I’ve actually heard about a few unique bookstores that have on-demand printers. I agree that it would add a great value and would certainly benefit Amazon’s bottom line! (And I think I’d take advantage of that service as well.)
The idea that the e-book would take over and make obsolete the paper version is strange. Most of the books I’ve read (all of them paper books), I’ve found by chance in bookshops, second hand bookshops, the book next to the one I was looking for at the library, or the book shelves of other people.
Maybe it sounds reasonable to find books on amazon, and it is, but experience tells me that chance, feeling, the sound of an unknown title, and many other things, have determined what I’ve read over the years.
There’s also the other thing, so common nowadays, that we think we can choose. On the internet, all titles are equal in the sense of being a line of characters, and we tend to believe we can compose our readings by just making the right choice. It makes for narrow-minded reading in a sense.
The thing is that moments aren’t equal. When in front of the screen, they might be fairly equal, but a Tuesday evening with snow in a friend’s apartment and a recommendation of an oddly sounding book, isn’t the same as the moment you throw back in the lounge of a guesthouse on Sumatra, picking up a book left by someone, or the moment your sister implores you to read a book you didn’t like because the author’s name is Simon.
Real life makes a much stronger impression than the internet. Hence amazon’s return to yesteryear’s concept.
I agree that the best book recommendations come from physical books. It’s easier to browse in bookstores; it’s easier to lend a friend a book if you can physically hand it to them. But new technology is making life very difficult on older methods of consuming entertainment. Look at newspapers, or music CD’s, or DVD’s. I certainly don’t agree with it, as I’m a huge supporter of the physical book, but I understand that as these new technologies make books more affordable and accessible through the ebook format, the physical book will be put at risk. Scary times we live in!