Amazon just opened its seventh bookstore, a 4,000 square foot space, in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan at the heart of the publishing industry. Nearby is the site of a bygone Borders bookstore in addition to publishers such as Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group. Amazon has committed to opening a chain of brick-and-mortar bookstores around the country, an irony given that the company’s online sale of books is often cited as a major factor in the demise of many bookstores nationwide.
The New York Times reports that another Amazon bookstore will open on 34th Street this summer, and six more stores are planned this year, in sites including Bellevue, Washington; Paramus, New Jersey; and San Jose, California (pictured below is Amazon Books of Seattle).
Pricing in the stores is dynamic, meaning shoppers “must scan books with an Amazon app on their cellphone or at one of the store’s digital kiosks” to learn the price.
Not surprisingly, the appearance of the midtown Manhattan store has prompted mixed reviews. “I’m happy there’s a new store where people can see books and encounter them, but I’d rather we were in there,” said Chris Doeblin, owner of independent bookstore Book Culture. “If I had the money, I would go and open a store right next to Jeff Bezos’s store.”
Although brick-and-mortar stores might seem to be a poor fit for the online behemoth, NYT opines that it is simply part of the company’s “continuing expansion into nearly every corner of the publishing industry” as it has become “the dominant book retailer” since its founding more than 20 years ago. According to the Codex Group, which analyzes the book industry, Amazon now “accounts for nearly half of all book sales in the United States, including print and e-books.”
Amazon pushed further into the industry with the 2007 debut of the Kindle, the purchase of audiobook producer/retailer Audible and book review sharing site Goodreads, as well as starting a publishing company. Last week, the company introduced Amazon Charts, which tracks not just “top-selling digital and print books on Amazon, but the ones that customers spend the most time reading,” including books that are “borrowed” from its e-book subscription service and those streamed on Audible.
Amazon Charts head Susan Stockman reports that the company is sharing the resulting data for the first time.
By broadening the data for tracking popular books, says NYT, “the lists give increased visibility to books that might not typically appear on other best-seller lists.” The current Amazon Charts list features five Amazon Publishing books out of 20 on the list. The weekly lists are already available on Alexa and may be “incorporated into displays in Amazon’s bookstores, and perhaps posted on Goodreads.”