Is Amazon about to follow in the footsteps of the bookstores it put out of business? According to The Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant intends to open 300 to 400 physical bookstores in the U.S., citing a shopping mall CEO with knowledge of the plans.
This wouldn’t be Amazon’s first foray into the world of brick and mortar retail. In November, the company opened its ever physical bookstore, called Amazon Books, located in the University Village area of Seattle, Amazon’s hometown.
However, shopping at Amazon Books isn’t like browsing for books in a typical Barnes & Nobles. Amazon uses data from its e-commerce site such as customer ratings and sales to decide which books to stock. Amazon’s store also places books face out on the shelves rather than spine out, and includes each book’s Amazon.com rating and a customer review.
In addition to selling books, the Amazon store also lets customers try out and buy the devices that Amazon manufactures and sells such as the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet gadgets. It’s unclear from the Wall Street Journal’s report if the newly planned stores will adopt a similar model to the Seattle store.
Amazon’s only other brick and mortar presence are small “pop-up” kiosks in Westfield Centre malls, which sell many Amazon devices and other branded products.
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The irony in Amazon’s potential brick and mortar ambitions is that the company was founded with the ambitions of putting brick and mortar bookstores out of business. Amazon’s aggressive discounting of books online eventually drove bookstore chain Borders out of business in 2011.
Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. brick and mortar bookstore chain, has around 650 stores, but has been closing 20 stores annually.
According to past reports, Amazon made $5.25 billion in 2014 revenue from selling books, or about 7% of the company’s 2014 revenue.
Update: In response to an inquiry about the report, a spokesperson for Amazon said the company does not comment on rumors and speculation. The headline was changed to better reflect that Amazon has made no final decision about opening stores.