From The San Diego Union:
Amazon is coming to town. But instead of catering to couch potatoes, the company is targeting people who prefer to browse or shop in actual stores.
The e-commerce giant is hiring store managers, booksellers and gadget enthusiasts for an Amazon Books retail store in the “La Jolla or San Diego area,” according to multiple job listings posted online earlier this week.
The job posts signal Amazon’s growing interest in the offline world, thus far a mostly untouched region for the company where it can extend its customer service prowess to face-to-face encounters, create shelf space for its growing lineup of hardware products and more efficiently handle returns.
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The local job postings, however, suggest that the online bookseller is already in the staffing stages for at least one store in the region. The positions currently listed for the “La Jolla or San Diego” Amazon Books store include Store Manager, Assistant Store Manager, Books Lead, Books Associate and Device Lead.
“Amazon Books is a physical retail store that offers a curated selection of books and an array of Amazon devices. We’ve applied twenty years of experience of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping,” one of the San Diego job posting’s states. “As a member of the Amazon Books team, you will have the opportunity to work with a stellar team that provides best-in-class customer service to anyone visiting the store.”
In an email exchange, Reg Kobzi, senior vice president for commercial real-estate brokerage CBRE, indicated that Amazon had been looking for local retail space, but would not comment further, citing a confidentiality agreement.
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San Diego has clearly suffered its share of casualties in the book-selling arena with the growth — and then decline — of large chains and the subsequent rise of internet sales. Wahrenbrock’s, Book Works, Esmeralda, Grounds for Murder, John Cole’s, William Burgett’s are all no more, as is the Borders chain. After declaring bankruptcy in 2011, it closed all of its stores, including three in San Diego County.
San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy is a long-term survivor in the local market, but that doesn’t mean co-owner Mary Elizabeth Yturralde isn’t concerned about the arrival of Amazon on Main Street.
“Anything that Amazon does is something that needs to be viewed with concern because of their predatory business model,” said Yturralde, whose store operates in the specialized niche of mystery, suspense, science-fiction, fantasy and horror. It’s been in business for nearly 23 years. “They operate in the Walmart mode where they don’t add any value to any community they move into.”
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Mutter of Shelf Awareness attributes the recent resurgence of independent bookstores, in part, to their efforts around emphasizing in-store perks, such as author events, that Amazon hasn’t been able to copy. Amazon’s brick-and-mortar business plans, then, are sure to make the company even less popular with this group.
“In the book world, Amazon is an evil empire,” Mutter said.
Link to the rest at The San Diego Union and thanks to Chris for the tip.
PG says if you have your heart set on working in a physical bookstore, you’ll almost certainly have a better salary, benefits, working conditions and future at an Amazon bookstore than you will at an indie bookstore.
The Amazon/Wal-Mart comparison is apt. When Wal-Mart opens a new store, it will frequently have something on the order of 10,000 employment applications for 400 openings.
To PG’s knowledge, Amazon hasn’t released the number of job applicants for each opening at its Seattle store, but he bets it is a much bigger number than for any indie or Barnes & Noble bookstore.