Back when Amazon first introduced the Kindle, and e-books were all the rage, a lot of people thought printed books and the stores that sell them were going the way of dinosaurs. But a decade later, print is outselling digital, and many independent bookstores are thriving. Even Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores (seven so far).
Its newest is in a high-end mall in New York City. "We call ourselves a physical extension of Amazon," says Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books. "So when you walk into our front door, what you see is our first table full of books, and it's called 'Highly Rated (4.8 Stars & Above).' "
This isn't a shop where a customer can get lost in the stacks — there are no stacks. Instead, books are shelved with the covers facing out. Cast says the store is organized around features familiar to anyone who has ever bought a book on Amazon, features like "Most Wished For." Those features are based on data collected on the website and on Kindles, and that information is at the heart of the store.
"We have so much wonderful information from customers about what they read, why they read and how they're reading," Cast says. "And to be able to surface that in a store to help customers discover books is what we're all about."
There's one other very important way the store connects to the website: When customers check an item's price at one of the store's scanners, they're given the list price and the Amazon Prime member price, which in one case was about $15 less. Don't have an Amazon Prime account? You can sign up for one at the register.