Book Selling Disquietingly Comes Full Circle: Amazon Opens a Bookstore in Seattle


Amazon’s existence undeniably led to the downfall of the likes of Borders, Waldenbooks, and all the trouble Barnes & Noble has been in for over five years — by allowing people one more exuse not to have to be seen in public. None of these casualties were nearly as frightening as concerns that Amazon would also lead to the closure of independent bookstores — but luckily, the opposite has happened there, as these continue to be on the rise due to their communitarian irreplaceability.

Today, however the cute-little-company-that-could [according to some, destroy the publishing industry] is, as Quartz reports, opening up a bookstore. That you can walk through. Physically. Like those other chain bookstores. That no longer exist. Indeed, it seems that now that Amazon’s existence — as a preferred alternative to chain bookstores — has all but killed the latter, it’s essentially turning its corpse into a weird physical book-selling zombie.

It’s happening in a mall in Seattle (the University Village mall) that, as Quartz notes, used to house a Barnes and Noble — and could be perceived as the beginning of a final attempt to squeeze the last life out of their competitor, which continues to be in decline. Prices in the store will be identical to those on the site, and the books — some 6,000 titles in total — will be selected through both algorithms and real human beings.

NPR notes that the store is tiny compared to former huge chain bookstores (the Barnes and Noble that was formerly in the mall was 46,000 square feet) — Amazon Books is only 5,500 square feet, with “hardwood floors and wooden shelves…giving it the look of a traditional bookstore.” Hopefully this isn’t an attempt to actually kill two birds — the remaining likes of Barnes and Noble, and the thriving independent bookstores its coziness seems to be aping — with one stone.

But really what Amazon cares about is the books, at least so they claim in statements surrounding the opening. They’re planning to display all of them with their covers facing out, because they “realized that we felt sorry for the books that were spine out.” So you can rest easy knowing that books’ covers’ feelings are in good care.