Amazon has been pissing off independent bookstores for two decades by offering generally lower prices and a wider selection of material than any of its quiet, good-smelling, brick-and-mortar competitors ever could. Now, it's looking to beat them at their own game.
The company opened its first ever physical, come-in-here-and-look-at-books location in Seattle on Tuesday, the Seattle Times reports. The store houses more than 5,000 titles, and brought in 15 employees to help customers sift through them all.
Amazon Books – a fitting, but sort of disappointingly obvious name for the place – uses customer data to curate its shelves. Along with bestsellers, the store stocks lesser-known works that get consistently solid reviews on its website. One section groups kids' books by how many stars they've earned online; another brings together the "most wished-for cookbooks" in the site's history.
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The store, located in Seattle's upscale University Village, is doing a few other funky things, too: Every single copy it carries will face out, as opposed to being lined up spines-out on shelves as bookstores generally do. Each title bears a card with either a review or a rating from a customer, and the books cost just as much online as they do in-store.
Visiting Amazon Books is like a slightly less exciting trip to the Apple Store: Instead of dicking around with iPads and smartwatches, maybe you try out a Kindle. Amazon Books VP Jennifer Cast insists the store's secret ingredient is love.
"It's data with heart," she told the Seattle Times. "We're taking the data we have and we're creating physical places with it."