A former indie bookseller took a trip through Amazon’s new bookstore, which opened yesterday in Seattle’s University Village with long lines and a lot of media coverage. And his take? Meh.
“The store is aggressively inoffensive,” wrote Dustin Kurtz in The New Republic article, My 2.5 Star Trip to Amazon’s Bizarre New Bookstore.
He continues, “It is nice only insofar as it is bland and has good lighting and they let a customer take his pretty chill dog in. The store is the physical incarnation of a monolithic business of immense wealth that is changing the face of literature itself, but from within it is all very boring, very safe, in an upscale grey palette kind of way.
“What is the opposite of disruption? It is, as it turns out, fitting in perfectly beside a Jonathan Adler.”
The article is making the viral rounds, especially among those who work in the book business. Kurtz’s review of the book-buying experience, whether you agree or not, is certainly worth a read. He first talks about the actual space, finding it “physically odd.”
“It betrays inexperience with retail,” he writes. “The stacks are situated too close to one another so that you have to brush past other browsers—Paco Underhill’s famed ‘butt brush’—and can’t comfortably bend down to see books on lower shelves. The first display tables are too near the doors, which discourages browsing.”
Kurtz is not a fan of how the books are arranged, all “facing out,” which lowers the number of books that can be stocked, as well as how they’re arranged, not alphabetically.
He also notes that while an employee will scan and help you find a title, there is no stock in the back of the store. They will just direct you to Amazon online.
Those are just some of his observations about the e-commerce giant’s move into physical retail. Read Kurtz’s full review of Amazon Books on New Republic. If you want a virtual tour of the inside of the space, check out GeekWire’s piece on the 7,400-square-foot store. And you can read more about other indie bookstores’ take on Amazon’s store here.
Did you visit the store yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below.