This month the highly anticipated Amazon Bookstore opened up in our local area. Ever since I heard about Amazon opening bookstores in Seattle (I think in a news article a few years ago?) I have been READY to visit one. We’ve been passing buy it for MONTHS, seeing the “Coming Fall 2017!” signs around the construction and just waiting for it to open (Mid November is a little late in the “fall” if you ask me!) Max and I eagerly visited the store the first weekend it was open, and I have to say, I think we were both a little underwhelmed.
Upon entering the bookstore, everything is very sleek and modern and it’s all black industrial accents and wood. There’s also a Peet’s coffer right inside the door, so it almost feels more like a coffee shop where there happen to be books rather than, you know, an actual bookstore.
I immediately made my way over the YA section, which was pretty small. I was anticipating this as I heard the inventory in the Amazon bookstores was pretty low and they only carried super highly rated books, and the books are shelved so you can see the front cover rather than the spine. There were about 3-4 of these front facing shelves total for YA, and it was pretty much just a mix of the most popular books/authors right now (Leigh Bardugo, John Green, Victoria Aveyard, etc.) and some super popular/iconic back list (Speak, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Harry Potter, etc). There were also a lot of first books in popular, older series (Cinder, Hunger Games, etc). but I didn’t spot the subsequent books, which I also felt was a bit strange (I get that they’re probably trying to get people hooked on popular series by reading the first book, but it still felt odd to have incomplete series and honestly a little random.
A cool feature I did like though was that most of the books had a review card below them that featured a quote from an actual review left by an Amazon customer. I recognized a lot of bloggers’ reviews, including the one above by the lovely Krysti at YA & Wine! It was such a cool touch and it’s actually really motivating me to step up my own Amazon review game! (How cool is it to think that a review you wrote could be on display in another state or city and that it will convince others to read a book?!)
A downside for me, however is the prices are not easily accessible. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member you would just pay the list price of the book, but if you are you have to take the book and go find a scanner to see the Amazon.com price, which I can image could be a huge pain when the store is super busy (of course, you could always look it up on your phone too by just looking to see the price on Amazon..com).
I did think the Adult Fiction section was decent and they also had some cool editions of books, like this gorgeous copy of The Handmaid’s tale. I also enjoyed the “If You Like This, Try That” area, which features books across all genres and age groups. So it was cool to see the mix of traditional shelving techniques and more innovative ones.
Honestly, I can see how Amazon’s new bookstores would appeal to casual readers, as a place where they can go pick up the latest hyped up books or a really iconic backlist/something that may be on a high school reading list. However, as someone who’s an avid blogger and reader, there wasn’t much that I was interested in. If there’s a super popular book that’s recently come out that I want to read, it’s highly likely that I’ll preorder it or have already purchased it. I also didn’t see any YA books that I hadn’t heard of before, so it didn’t lend itself to the experience of wandering around a bookstore and trying new books to see if it’s something you’re interested in taking home. Max did end up picking up a book and the checkout process was really easy (you just use a credit card that’s linked to your Prime account and you automatically get the Prime price, so no hassles with having to log into an account or anything). I could see us returning if we happened to be in the area and wanted to browse, or to pick up a book we really needed/wanted and didn’t have time to wait for the two day shipping but other than that the limited selection may not appeal to readers with already extensive collections of books.
Have you been to an Amazon bookstore yet? Do you think you’d enjoy going to one if you had one near you? What are your feelings on an Amazon bookstore vs. a more traditional one like B&N or an indie bookstore? Let me know in the comments!