Amazon Stores?

I saw this article linked from Bookninja: is Amazon planning to launch retail stores?

The online retailer received a patent earlier this week for a mini-building design that has sent rumbles throughout the retail world — or, more specifically, on several online financial blogs — of a possible brick-and-mortar business venture by the company.

The patent, number D593,208, was originally filed on Oct. 31, 2007, and lists Michael Ausich, Peter Stocker and Stephanie Landry of Seattle as inventors. The relationship between the three and the company was unclear in the patent filing.

And while the designs for the building do resemble a storefront, it’s worth noting that Amazon has also already toyed with pick-up locations in Seattle for its Amazon Fresh delivery service, which it discontinued in February 2008; the patent could, in fact, augur a reprise of those.

I’d like to see more book stores of any kind, to be honest, especially in the UK. Preferably, though, they’d be smart little indies, with cool music (Kings of Convenience playing in the corner?), free coffee, big-ass sofas, and an endless SF and Fantasy section. There’d be comics too. And you’d get all the arty types hanging out there, and I’d run literary-type speed dating events (you ain’t read a book this year, you don’t get laid) and acoustic nights. Cute geek-girl staff for the guys; aloof geek-guy staff for the girls. (Or vice versa if that’s your thing.) Okay, so this is the bookstore I’d like to run then. I’d make an absolute fortune.

Or maybe I’d want it like Black Books, in which case everyone can just leave me alone to drink wine.

Who’s in?

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

7 replies on “Amazon Stores?”

I like the sound of your stores – I’m honestly less enthusiastic about Amazon entering the game. I love bookstores and wish there were more, but I prefer the independent variety – and it seems to me that Amazon doesn’t need to push any more indies out of the game.

Wine AND books indeed. Don’t spill vino on the vellum.

I think in the UK there’s pretty much a monopoly of Waterstone’s on the high street, ever since they acquired Ottakar’s, with only Borders for competition across the country to speak of. Although, I know that they’re also competing with… supermarkets (shudder) on frontlist titles.

What can Amazon bring to high street retail? They won’t be able to translate their prices to a B&M store, and I sure as hell hope they don’t bring their staffing practices there too – retail’s bad enough without all the shenanegans that were mentioned in that Times exposé a while back.

How about a B&M store that works with the publishers? We need to do away with over-ordering stock just to make pretty displays – sale-or-return is a terrible system when it’s misused in this way.

Much as though I loathe to speak out in favour of Amazon, apparently that Times article was a load of crap – really bad journalism. And dude, you should check how bad things are at other large book chains (which I won’t mention here, but are pretty obvious). The stories I’ve heard…

I still think Ottakar’s had it right (then again, being an Old Ottakarian, I would say that). Small scale, friendly staff who are allowed to be interactive with the customers and help shape range, as decentralised as possible, et voila! a successful small chain with loyal customers.

I have friends still working at the big two – and you’re right, it is grim. Glad I got out when I did!

Ottaker’s always did sound like some fairy idyll. I don’t see why a small chain of decent-sized bookshops couldn’t work, given enough financial backing. Maybe some kind of book co-op in a large building, kinda like a book department store. Shared buying power and the attraction of a big store = profit?

Ah, so you know too then. It’s not nice at all.

It did work at the time, right up until it was bought out and they couldn’t do a thing about it. I’ve often thought of the co-op thing myself; but more with getting some network of indies to negotiate better deals with distributors etc.

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