In one of the most ironic decisions a company has ever made, Amazon has just opened its first brick-and-mortar retail bookstore. It’s an actual bookstore, where you walk in, browse the physical shelves, find something you want to buy, and then carry it up to a checkout person standing at a register. It is, in other words, just like the countless bookstores that Amazon forced out of business when people realized that it’s generally cheaper and more convenient to simply order things from Amazon.
The store is called Amazon Books, and it’s located in Seattle’s University Village. According to The Seattle Times (which notes that “there is some irony” in this), the store houses 5-6,000 books, all of which are “best-sellers as well as Amazon.com customer favorites.” Therein lies the trick to all of this: Unlike a normal bookstore, which has to keep things on the shelf for years in hopes of someone coming along and buying them, Amazon Books has mounds of customer data on which books sell the best, so it only has to stock the stuff that’s worth stocking.
Maybe this has been Amazon’s plan all along. It’s driven traditional retailers out of business, built up loads of brand recognition and consumer trust, and will now quietly step in and replace the traditional retailers. You’ll buy groceries at Amazon Food, you’ll buy cars from Amazon Automotive, and you’ll see movies at Amazon Instant Video theaters. It’s just crazy enough to work, and this whole scheme would be shockingly brilliant, if it weren’t so dystopian.