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Amazon's First Bookstore Is Alive With Tech Charm

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on November 04, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The future was going to be all electronic until Amazon realized people are still organic. Now, the giant that made online shopping massive has opened a proper shop. Blamed for putting brick and mortar stores out of business, Amazon is turning into one.

But if you are old enough to really remember bookstores, you may be sorely disappointed. According to Ars Technica reporter Sam Machkovech, who visited the Amazon flagship store in Seattle, "Amazon isn't just interested in offering a comfortable, curated book-buying experience. It also wants to whack everybody over the head with its rapidly expanding empire of devices and content-delivery ecosystems. Everywhere you turn, you'll find a Fire TV demo, or a table dedicated to Fire tablets ..."

Best Buy Meets Bookshop

The Amazon Books shop is designed for gear heads and book nerds, it seems. While the main offerings are literary -- books and magazines -- the company is also understandably pushing its own devices.

Machkovech writes, "In terms of aesthetics, hardwood floors and wooden shelves offered a hint of a quaint old bookstore, but copious LED-equipped light bars all over the place ... made us feel almost like we were in a Best Buy at times." He complained of excessive electronic demos and a strange system for arranging books.

Alphabetical Order Is Old School

Amazon does not rely on alphabetical order or on standard sorting. Some books are organized by genre or niche, reportedly. But mostly the Amazon Books shop relies on the company's own curation, and ... family relations.

Books are selected according to how they do on Amazon's rating system, meaning how they do in reviews and sales. There are also some staff favorites which stand out and get a special spot, like a novel by the company owner's wife, Mackenzie Besos.

It is interesting that Amazon staff were so taken with the work. Mrs. Bezos' novel, Traps, is described by readers online as having few positive qualities, most notably that it is very short.

The Future of Reading

Amazon reportedly "hopes" to open other brick and mortar bookshops. If its electronic book selling business is any indication, it will change the business of books again when it does.

Whether this is good news for fans of the old school bookstore, or if there is no more hope, remains to be seen. According to the Ars Technica review of the Amazon Books brick and mortar shop, "We could see this as an ideal shopping experience for some clueless book shoppers."

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