Amazon Books is a chain of retail bookstores owned by online retailer Amazon.com. The first store opened on November 2, 2015 in the University Village shopping center in Seattle, Washington near the company's headquarters in the same city. A second store in San Diego, California at the Westfield UTC opened in September 2016, and a third in Portland, Oregon the following month.
An additional store in Chicago, Illinois has also been announced, along with plans to build stores in hundreds of malls.
The Seattle location has approximately 5,000 titles stocked on its bookshelves, using shelf space to display the covers of books facing outwards instead of spines; according to Amazon, the decision was made to showcase the authors and their work, rather than efficient use of space. The shelves display positive reviews and star-ratings from the Amazon.com website and prices are matched to online equivalents.
The store also sells Amazon electronics, including the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, the Kindle Fire tablet series, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Fire TV.
The first Amazon Books store, located at the University Village shopping center in Seattle, Washington, opened on November 2, 2015. The store has been described as the first permanent store from Amazon, who opened pop-up shops and pickup outlets on several university campuses in 2015. In February 2016, tech news website Re/code reported that longtime Amazon executive Steve Kessel was leading the retail store initiative, having previously been part of the team to launch the first Amazon Kindle e-reader. During development of the project, it was referred to as "Project Anne" in filings with the city.
On February 2, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon planned to open as many as 400 bookstores, according to a statement from the CEO of General Growth Properties, a firm that manages over 100 shopping malls in the United States, made during an earnings call; the statement was retracted by the company the following day.
Job listings posted online in February 2016 indicated the Amazon was planning to open more Books stores in Seattle as well as in San Diego, California in the near future. In March 2016, new signage at the Westfield UTC mall in San Diego, California indicated that the second Amazon Books store would open there by the end of the year. The store opened on September 7, 2016, without an opening celebration.
A third store at Washington Square near Portland, Oregon was confirmed by the mall and Amazon.com in June 2016, and opened on October 25.
In November, Amazon Books began charging non-Amazon Prime members a separate price for books and other non-electronic products, while Amazon Prime members retained the online price-matched rate.
A fourth store in the Lakeview area of Chicago was announced in August 2016, and is targeted to open in 2017.
The New York Post reported in July 2016 that a fourth store in the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, New York City, was nearing final negotiations and would open in late 2018 or early 2019.
Four stores in Dedham, MA., Lynnfield MA., The Garden State Plaza, (Paramus, NJ.) and The Shops at Columbus Circle, (New York, NY.) were announced throughout the end of 2016, and the beginning of 2017. It is unsure if the Hudson Yards location will still open. In February of 2017, an Amazon Books was announced to open a store in Broadway Plaza (Walnut Creek) located in Walnut Creek, CA.
Local bookstores in the Seattle area described wariness over the physical presence of Amazon.com, with the University Book Store in the U District noting "different spending patterns" two months after the opening of Amazon's store; an Amazon spokesperson dismissed the notion that Amazon Books would interfere with independent bookstores and their operations, stating that "offline retail is a big space with room for lots of winners".
The executive vice president of Half Price Books, a national chain of new and used bookstores, saw the interest that Amazon is showing in expanding brick-and-mortar bookstores as something good for the industry, stating in February 2016 that it was a sign that the "printed word isn't dead".
After the announcement of a third store in Portland, Oregon, CEO Miriam Sontz of local bookstore Powell's Books stated that Amazon's move to open physical stores was acknowledgement that "something special occurs in a physical bookstore that is not replicable online" and that Portland was "filled with book lovers and book buyers", quoting bank robber Willie Sutton's quip that he targeted banks "because that's where the money is".