Amazon’s 180

Apparently, Amazon is planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

I don’t understand the point of this.

I know that Amazon selling books and e-books has been upsetting to people who adore spending time in a bookstore or who won’t read anything that’s not printed on paper, but let’s hold off on the Amazon-is-evil-and-paper-books-forever debate for a minute and look at why Amazon has been successful in the book selling arena. The whole appeal of buying books on Amazon (or skipping paper books altogether and getting them on a Kindle, as I do for most of my books, nowadays) is that you don’t have to drive to a physical store, can find whatever you want without wondering if it will be in stock, and you get instant gratification—either by downloading your book in seconds or by finding and ordering it with the click of a mouse.

The last time I went to a bookstore to find a specific book (a vegetarian cookbook by Paul McCartney and family, as a matter of fact. I still have yet to kick my meat addiction and actually use this cookbook, but I digress…), I drove to the store, hunted forever to find the one (battered, despite being brand-new) copy of the book in stock and paid five dollars more than the Amazon price. I love wandering the aisles of a bookstore, but if I’m looking for something specific, such experiences leave me frustrated. 


book shelves


(I feel the need to acknowledge the stance of the paper book people with the disclaimer that I, too, adore paper books. They make me feel happy when I have them around. I don’t feel that our home is complete without my collection of books in it. However, after several moves and a downsize into a smaller living space, I’ve realized that my wife and I don’t have the muscle to keep moving boxes and boxes of paper books, nor the shelf space to store all of them. I finally sold or donated most of them, keeping only a few that are valuable or special to me.) 

Amazon drove hoards of bookstores—from big ones like Borders and Barnes & Noble to the small, neighborhood, mom and pop stores—out of business because, let’s face it, people like convenience and they like a good price. No matter your stance on where or how people should buy their books, that’s why Amazon succeeded. So how will Amazon fare with brick-and-mortar stores? Why are they doing this? Thoughts? 


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