Brick and Mortar Amazon Bookstore? No Way

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Shame on Forbes. We thought they were a thoughtful business publication but in spreading rumors without an ounce of foundation or attribution they make washerwomen look martyrs for truth.

The tittle-tattle in question is that Amazon is developing plans for a retail bookstore or chain. Even the headline, Why Amazon’s Rumored Retail Bookstore Will Be Huge, dignifies the gossip with an unqualified future tense of the verb, as if the building is all but completed and about to open the doors to its first customers. (“Get ready for the rollout,” says Forbes.)

Among fatuities on display in Forbes‘s article are these:

“First off, if the rumors are correct, Amazon has the most important part of the plan right — it’s thinking small boutique store, not giant superstore. Big rent is what killed many of the bookstore chains.” [A boutique store for its millions of titles?]

“A physical Amazon bookstore addresses one of the biggest problems in brick-and-mortar retailing today — the mind-numbing sameness of product. You go through a mall, and it’s the same clothes, the same gadgets, and in bookstores, the same books.” [Why all books in stores are the same, and why Amazon’s books will be different from those displayed in, say, Barnes & Noble, is not articulated.]

“With its emphasis on its exclusive booklist, Amazon also presents an alternative to traditional bookstores rather than a direct competitor. Sure, some visitors will buy Tom Clancy for the Kindle while they’re there.” [Why is a customer going to a physical store to buy books for the Kindle?]

“Amazon’s idea has the potential to reinvigorate the entire bookstore sector, and grow interest in reading in general. That could lift the surviving indie bookstores, too, particularly those that take the hint and innovate.” [What surviving indie bookstores?]

“It could just be a media-grabbing, one-shot flagship store. It could even be a seasonal holiday store that’s gone come January.” [We have no comment. Indeed, words fail us.]

After a strategy of undercutting retailers, when chains and independent stores of all kinds are dropping like flies, why on earth would Amazon would go into the brick and mortar business? Come on, Forbes, you’re a business publication, you know better than that.

If Amazon did want to have a physical bookstore presence the only strategy that might make sense is a chain of print on demand kiosks combining the company’s greatest strengths, brilliant technology and limitless inventory, in a relatively modest space. But Espresso-type printers would have to shrink to desktop dimensions.

You want a rumor to monger, Forbes? Try this one: POD Kiosks Coming Soon (to Your Local Truck Stop)

Richard Curtis

2 thoughts on “Brick and Mortar Amazon Bookstore? No Way

  1. Richard Sutton

    Most media have become re-distribution channels for corporate leaks anyway, so I wasn’t surprised that Forbes treated this as news. What amazes me is how Amazon, the company who revolutionized distribution and online selling would see the need to dilute their brand and risk margin by going to the streets at all. It either smacks of extreme greed, or stupidity. If I were a shareholder, I’d be worried right now.

    Reply
    1. Richard CurtisRichard Curtis Post author

      @ Richard Sutton “If I were a shareholder, I’d be worried right now.”

      If I were a shareholder who believed gossip, I might be worried too. Let Forbes attribute this rumor to a single reliable source and then let’s have a discussion that makes sense. But you’re right, Richard, “going to the streets” goes against every principle on which Amazon’s business rests.

      Reply

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