Amazon Books is the latest retail venture by Amazon.com–and it’s pretty ironic. Amazon started off as an online bookseller, and now they have physical stores. But they didn’t just recreate Barnes and Noble, they have changed the book selling game in subtle but profound ways. Let’s explore how Amazon Books works.
The first thing you notice is that all the books are displayed face out. This is actually extremely aesthetically pleasing, but ironically probably results in a lot of judging a book by it’s cover. It really makes you wonder if all books will have neon yellow covers from now on, because that yellow book in the bottom right corner really stands out.
It also means fewer titles for Amazon to stock, and thus, lower choice for customers. This is a store that stocks what is popular, with titles we’ve reviewed like Elon Musk, What if We’re Wrong, A $500 House in Detroit, not more obscure titles.
Everything is tied into the Amazon world in one way or another. Instead of having employee recommendations. the store displays the most wished for books on Amazon.com. So even though you are in a physical book store, Amazon’s influence is not far away.
Pricing is also different from a normal bookstore. Like Barnes and Noble, the online price and in-store price is not the same. However, unlike Barnes and Noble, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get the online price in store. There are no stickers on the books, you have to scan the barcode to determine the book’s price. Yet another reason to be a Prime member.
The store is well designed with a few chairs to read books in. Employees don’t hassle you for hanging out and reading, and the whole shopping experience is quite pleasant.
The other thing you’ll notice is that, despite being a bookstore. maybe 20% of the store doesn’t sell books. Kindles, Alexa speakers, the Amazon Echo, Bose QC35 headphones, and various other Amazon electronics products are available.
Checkout has magazines and small gifts for you to impulse-buy. Remember, if you don’t have Prime, you’ll be paying more.
Amazon Books Review: The Verdict
Amazon Books is cool and sort of unexpected. Mostly I’m just struck by how full circle Amazon has gone. It’s transformed from an online bookseller (remember when they only sold books? Yeah, neither do I…) to a massive everything store. A few days after I took these photos, they purchased Whole Foods, which is an even bigger expansion into retail.
For shoppers Amazon Books is a definite win. The ability to get books at online prices–if you are a Prime member–is great, and it really is fun to walk around Amazon Books. They are totally onto something with the whole front facing cover thing. 90% of customers will think this is an improvement, while 10% of hardcore book buyers will go to stores like The Strand or buy online (probably also from Amazon).
For authors, this is both good–in the sense that we want as many people as possible to walk by bookstores–and bad, in the sense that the new format means only the top writers will make it into the store. This format places an even higher premium on making it. The top writers will sell even more books, and be even more visible, while lower-tier writers might never make it into the store.
Bookselling has changed, but some things stay the same. Great titles by great authors continue to have a market.
If you like this Amazon Books review plan on shopping at Amazon Books, you will probably want to be a Prime member. If you sign up using the link below, you can get a free 30-day trial. You’ll also be supporting Take Risks Be Happy. Thanks 🙂