Amazon, the world’s largest online bookstore, may seem like the last company to open a bookstore, especially in the heart of literary haven New York City, but as of Thursday, May 25, Amazon Books is open for business.
By opening a store in Midtown Manhattan’s Columbus Circle complex, just doors down from a former Border’s Books and within walking distance from the offices of several major American publishing houses, Amazon Books has posited itself in one of New York’s central commercial hubs. The move is especially bold, if not slightly ironic, given the decline of physical retail shops sparked by Amazon’s online empire.
But Amazon Books will be anything but a traditional bookshop.
One of its biggest features will be to showcase books that are popular among Kindle, Audible, and Goodreads users, all of which are owned by Amazon who has accesses its data. Books displayed from this data will have its own weekly updated section in Amazon Books. “We call this a physical extension of Amazon.com,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, told the New York Times. “We incorporate data about what people read, how they read it and why they read it.”
This data is part of its new venture Amazon Charts, a weekly best-seller lists that tracks best-sellers and most read books. “Many of the weekly lists that are out there today tend to curate, they rerank or add or remove books,” said David Naggar, Amazon’s vice president, referring to popular newspaper lists. “[Amazon’s are] unfiltered and unedited.”
Along with it’s unique “Highly Rated” “Page-Turners” and “Wished For” shelves, Amazon Books will also display all books face out along with their customer user ratings. What people won’t see are prices. To see the cost of a book, shoppers must use the Amazon app or at an in-store Kiosk. “The purpose of this store is discovery,” Ms. Cast said. “If you already know what you want, you’ll go online and get it.”
Amazon has more stores popping up across the country, including a second Manhattan location at 34th Street, opening in the near future.