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.