Amazon Books Hopes Its Stores Don’t Go Route of Past Booksellers

Amazon Books is slated to open its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City on Thursday. This will be the seventh physical store in the United States, with other locations in San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Massachusetts, and Portland. Other stores are slated to open in the following cities: San Jose, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; Paramus, NJ; Bellevue, WA; and another location in NYC.

The NYC store is centrally located in Columbus Circle. Like other stores, this Manhattan location will use millions of customer ratings and reviews to help guide customers with a unique, Amazon-esque shopping experience. Here’s more on the store concept:

The store — which sells mostly books and some electronics, like the Amazon Echo — doesn’t have traditional price tags, and with the exception of new releases, it stocks only books that have an average online rating of four stars or above.

If you look closely at the new store, you’ll see that it resembles Barnes & Noble’s layout. Unlike Barnes & Noble, however, each book for sale is accompanied by an Amazon review coupled with its average online rating and the number of times customers have reviewed the book. There’s another caveat for any prospective Amazon Books customer: you won’t see traditional price tags on items there. Visitors to Amazon Books will have to make their purchases using through an Amazon Prime account, notably through their smartphones. Non-Amazon Prime members will have the option to pay for purchases using credit or debit cards.

“We had an opportunity to create a new kind of store and create a different experience in a physical world. Our special sauce is knowing the reading habits and passions of a city through our data,” said Jennifer Cast, the vice president of Amazon Books, to Business Insider in March.

In February 2016, a mall executive speculated that Amazon may open 300-400 brick-and-mortar stores–although Amazon hasn’t confirmed these plans. Amazon isn’t only experimenting with book stores. It has also set its sights on a grocery store concept in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon is positioned to do well as a company going forward. However, will its book store concept go the way of Borders Books or Family Christian Stores? Or will it use its prowess to outlast past booksellers and use existing tools in place to thrive in an every-changing technological world?

Reading a book has evolved from the early days of Johannes Gutenberg revolutionizing the printing press to reading e-books on a Kindle or iPad. Some believe books are totally and utterly obsolete–as one NYC school trashed all of its books citing how “outdated” they were compared to new technology. How sad. Perhaps Amazon’s efforts will bring about a resurgence of brick-and-mortar book stores? Let’s hope so.