A line started forming about 30 minutes before Amazon opened the doors to its first-ever brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle’s University Village shopping center on Tuesday.
When we asked people what they were expecting, everyone seemed to agree they just wanted the tech giant to give them an old-fashioned bookstore.
And that’s pretty much exactly what they found inside — but with a technology twist.
“I think that’s the way we looked at it,” Amazon operations manager Brett Zriny said. “That’s what customers want. We think we can do it and wanted to give a great experience.”
The 7,400-square-foot store was designed with a few twists. It uses data from Amazon’s massive online store to refine the selection, and recommends books based on online user reviews. Every book is arranged so its cover is showing, you have to use the Amazon app or kiosks to find prices and there were several stations showing off Amazon’s hardware.
But other than that, shoppers walked in the front door and pretty much knew exactly what to do. The store reached capacity within about 15 minutes of opening.
“I’m not sure how you could really change the paradigm when it comes to a bookstore because a bookstore is a bookstore,” Vicki Sandeen said as she walked in. “When you go in there you go for a specific reason: to buy a book.”
Clearly, it’s a bit ironic that Amazon is stepping into physical bookstore business after the company spent nearly two decades changing the industry and driving many avid readers crazy along the way.
Molly Fallen was one of the first shoppers waiting in line on Tuesday. She said she does most of her book shopping online these days, but not by choice. She’s been looking for a replacement to step in ever since Borders went out of business — largely because of online sellers like Amazon.
“This is the first Amazon Books ever. That’s really exciting,” she said. “I love going to bookstores and holding them and smelling them. It’s so much fun. But you can’t really do that anymore without going some great distance.”