The news broke late last week: the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is renting retail space in Manhattan. The retailing juggernaut’s first brick-and-mortar store will be located on West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building, and just a block from Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square.
But Barnes & Noble can rest easy. The word is that the Amazon store won’t stock books. Instead, it’s likely to be mostly warehouse space for returns, in-store pickup, and same-day order fulfillment for impatient New Yorkers. Inventory will probably be limited, according to the Journal, but eventually the store might carry electronic gizmos such as Kindles, Fire smartphones, and Fire TV devices. In any case, the facility ought to be up and running in plenty of time for the Christmas shopping season.
This hybrid online/storefront model isn’t as weird as it sounds. Other retailers have already done it – most notably Apple. Remember when Apple Stores were a novelty? And Amazon itself dabbled in grab-and-go retail during the 2013 holiday season, when it put vending machines for Kindles and other small electronic items in certain shopping malls.
In fact, this isn’t the first time Amazon has thought about opening a storefront. Two years ago, the Journal reports, the Zon scouted locations in Seattle before shelving the idea because the sites it was looking at wouldn’t have had enough foot traffic. That’s probably not going to be a problem in Midtown Manhattan. And if the experiment there succeeds, it’s possible Amazon will set up storefronts in other cities – much as it’s slowly rolling out same-day delivery in major metropolitan areas.
As it happens, I had a chance to try Amazon’s same-day delivery service not long ago. I didn’t need the item I’d ordered that fast, but just for fun, I sprang for the extra five bucks to see how it worked. It went like clockwork: within hours of ordering my item online, I had a box from Amazon in my hot little hands. The process wasn’t quite as fast as if I’d driven to Best Buy – but then again, I didn’t have to get dressed and get in the car. My only regret is that my order didn’t come by drone.
Is there good news in this for indie authors? Well, maybe. For one thing, it will be easier for harried holiday shoppers to pick up a Kindle on impulse for Uncle Chuck or Aunt Dottie, thereby giving us one more reader who will be looking for content to fill up that new device. And speaking of holiday shopping: same-day delivery, baby. We’d be able to take a quick break to shop, then go back to writing, and still have our gifts under the tree that night – and all without having to put on a bra.
Um. Did I just overshare?
16 thoughts on “Your Neighborhood Amazon Brick & Mortar Store”
Er, well, maybe. 😉
I don’t think this will be a threat to any “real” bookstore by the sounds of it. Thanks for checking it out.
Or put on pants! Or both! 😀
You’re welcome, Yvonne.
Thank you Lynne for this humorous post! Amazon can do just about anything they please, but having more readers will certainly help books.
That’s my take on it, Lilian. 🙂
I saw a note I think in Publishers Weekly magazine that Amazon is opening a brick and mortar store in LA. I didn’t check out the details, but probably the same type of place.
More than likely, Richard. I’d be interested to know more about that — the only thing I’ve seen in the press here has been about the NYC store.
When I first heard the announcement I questioned what type of inventory the Zon would carry. Since I’m from the city, I know the cost of precious retail square footage. I do believe that Amazon will utilize every inch for gain. Will there be an opportunity for indie authors and book sales? Yes, a resounding yes. Createspace is POD, Amazon could offer authors to purchase a package of their works at our price point, and then fill their shelves selling them at their online cost. What better way to stand behind we little people who are carrying part of the ball? We would still get our royalties plus major exposure we otherwise couldn’t afford. This may not happen at opening, but I will wait and see if my prediction is accurate. What a prime spot they’ve nabbed, oh yes!
Wouldn’t that be terrific, Aron? I hope you’re right!
I think that JB’s ego would do it just for kicks. After all the back and forth with the trads, I bet he’s going to drop another bomb. It would be great for us, and cost them no more.
Remember the old juke boxes? That would be a kicker, put your money, or card in the slot, and download your book of choice. Beam me up Scottie.
That’s pretty much how an Espresso machine works, as I understand it. You order the book you want, and the machine prints and binds it while you wait.
But I want to see Big Al in a bra!
Big Al in a bra… Uuuggghhh! Sorry Al, no offense, but seriously…
Only if it’s tan corduroy. 😀
Could this possibly be a revamped, reinvented Zon version of an old, previously thought of as going into extinction, concept for selling books?… New York first, before spreading across the US of A, the UK, Europe and around the world; maybe even link up with another US icon: fries with that, mam, or perhaps a hot off the press POD.
Oh, by the way, great post, Lynne.
B&N is already half coffeehouse, right? 😀
It would be cool if the Zon would include a POD machine similar to an Espresso machine in whatever brick-and-mortar stores they open. I hope they’re listening… 😀 Thanks, TD!
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