Could an Amazon Bookstore Be Opening Near You?

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Amazon has just one physical bookstore, but the buzz is that the king of online commerce may be planning a major brick-and-mortar expansion.

Amazon is king in the online shopping world. Launched more than two decades ago as an online bookstore, the Internet-based retailer diversified over the years and now sells millions of products ranging from food and household goods to electronics and apparel.

Now it appears the e-commerce giant may be looking to create a much bigger footprint in the brick-and-mortar shopping world.

Amazon launched its first physical store in November, going back to its roots as a bookseller by opening Amazon Books, a walk-in bookstore in Seattle, which also displays Amazon devices like the Kindle Fire and Echo voice-controlled speaker. But lots more bookstores may be in the works for Amazon.

Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of shopping mall operator General Growth Properties Inc., said on an earnings call earlier this week that Amazon’s “goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 [brick-and-mortar] bookstores.”

Mathrani’s comment caused a buzz, and articles like this one in The Wall Street Journal, about the possibility of Amazon opening retail outlets across the United States.

General Growth Properties issued a statement Wednesday, clarifying that Mathrani’s Amazon bookstore comment during an earnings call “was not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.”

Amazon has declined to comment on the bookstore rumblings.

According to Re/code, its sources have confirmed that Amazon’s retail store initiative is being spearheaded by longtime Amazon executive Steve Kessel, who helped launch the first Kindle e-reader. Re/code says walk-in bookstores may be just the beginning for the e-commerce giant:

Amazon will indeed open up more bookstores, but it also plans to eventually unveil other types of retail stores in addition to bookstores, according to two sources familiar with the plans. It’s not yet clear what those stores will sell or how they will be formatted, but the retail team’s mission is to reimagine what shopping in a physical store would be like if you merged the best of physical retail with the best of Amazon.

Amazon is hiring for a new Amazon Books store in California. But as of now, “there are no immediate plans for a rollout of 300 to 400 stores,” Re/code reports.

John Mutter, editor-in-chief of book industry news site Shelf Awareness, told NPR that Amazon likely has plans to open more brick-and-mortar bookstores, as e-book sales plateau and printed books experience a resurgence. But insiders like Mutter say about a dozen stores — rather than hundreds of stores — is probably a more realistic estimate.

“The basic idea that Amazon is going to open some more stores is accurate, but the number is wildly high,” Mutter says.

Would you shop at a physical Amazon bookstore? What do you think about Amazon opening more retail stores? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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