Home » Amazon, Bookstores » Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

2 February 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

After dipping its toes into brick-and-mortar retail last year by opening its first physical bookstore, Amazon.com Inc. could be diving into the deep end.

The Seattle company plans as many as 400 bookstores, Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of large mall operator General Growth Properties Inc., said on an earnings call with analysts Tuesday.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400,” said Mr. Mathrani in response to a question about mall traffic.

That compares to the 640 stores Barnes & Noble Inc. operates and the 255 locations Books-A-Million Inc. said it had as of last summer. Both companies spent years building out their retail operations. In addition to its one bookstore, Amazon already has a presence in Westfield Corp. malls, where it has set up permanent kiosks selling devices, cases and branded apparel.

. . . .

Following the Amazon news, shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. slid 1.7% to $7.95 in after-hours trading.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Frank and others for the tip.

Amazon, Bookstores

35 Comments to “Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores”

  1. Pretty much duh. And expect to see print-on-demand machines in them.

      • And evil Amazon’s the one spreading them!

        Probably not, but what better way to have the big5 and all their little friends up in arms than to scare them like this?

        • Except evil Amazon is not spreading the rumor.

          “That CEO would have violated multiple NDAs to make that claim in the earnings call. Yes, people are that stupid sometimes, but I have trouble believing it in this case.

          The mall operator in question has interests in 120 malls, and exposing Amazon’s plans risks Amazon choosing to sign leases elsewhere. That is millions of annual revenue walking away due to this one slip.

          Plus, why would Amazon have told this one CEO their entire plan?”

          If Amazon had been talking with this mall group about leases, they sure won’t be now. This is basic business courtesy, never mind the legal issues (which are huge). An interesting question is why is this guy trying to puff up his mall empire with such a disclosure? And why is he trying to terrify his other tenants?

  2. I wonder if they’ll blacklist Amazon imprints?

  3. I hope they do one close to me.

  4. Matthew Yglesias thinks the bookstores will serve as local hubs for same day delivery from regional warehouses:

    http://www.vox.com/2016/2/2/10900082/amazon-books-explained

    They’ll also be a good venue for Indies to expand into print.

    • A mall storefront doesn’t have much storage space for staging same-day goods, so that doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

      I think it’s more likely that the mall presence is really a real-world extension of the website — a means of reaching those consumers who are not comfortable making purchases online — and also taking advantage of all the retailers in the mall. A shopper buying clothes for example could try them on at the Sears or Victoria’s Secret and then pop into the Amazon store to order them. Remember the feature on the Amazon phone, I think it was called Firefly, that enabled the customer to photograph an object or bar code and Amazon would identify it and make it available for purchase?

      In other words, Amazon is using the mall bookstore as a Trojan Horse. Not only competing bookstore chains but all retailers should be concerned.

      Frankly I don’t think there’s much they can do about it. Futurists foresaw a long time ago that the infrastructure of shopping as we know it is full of inefficiencies. It makes goods more expensive, wastes time, and is bad for the environment as its bad points. It employs a lot of people is its only virtue, but in crap jobs.

      Additional — ah, I just read the Wall Street article. So this information isn’t from Amazon, but is from a big mall-holding company. What an idiot. Whoever he was talking to at Amazon is going to be pissed.

      • “A mall storefront doesn’t have much storage space for staging same-day goods, so that doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”

        I was about to make that same point.

      • “A mall storefront doesn’t have much storage space for staging same-day goods, so that doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”

        I was about to make that same point.

        • Depends on what you mean by staging. And the number and type of product being moved.
          So far, Amazon’s same day deliveries tend to be small products. And if all they move is a couple vans’ worth a day they could keep a couple days’ inventory on hand. With regular resupply from their regional warehouses.

          I’m keeping an open mind until Amazon issues an open denial.

          • I’m with Felix. The mall space could be part bookstore, part pick-up location similar to Amazon lockers. Instead of imitating traditional brick-and-mortar retail units, it might be more accurate to see these locations as physical access terminals to the Amazon warehouse network.

  5. A modern day version of the mall bookstore?

    Huh, who’d a thunk it?

    http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2012/11/what-happened-to-my-bookstore/

    (note the date on this)

  6. Dean Wesley Smith

    This news has to just be killing all the people who think bookstores are a thing of the past. (grin)

  7. Smart Debut Author

    And in other unrelated news, underwear sales in NYC tripled today… 😉

  8. My best guess: Mr. Mathrani might have heard a rumor from someone else that made him jump to a conclusion—or else he just took a wild-assed guess. Either way, I’m guessing that he thought it would be fun, and perhaps good for business at his company’s malls, to get his name in the paper. So he came out with a corker of a story that they couldn’t resist. Amazon, secretive as it is, would naturally neither confirm nor deny it, so he can basically say whatever he wants. If there should be any trouble, why, he was just making a guess, and the papers misinterpreted.

    But watch for a round of panicked pundits to vent more Amazon blather anyway.

    • There’s definitely something curious about it. It’s the CEO of a public ally traded company talking to analysts disappointed in his company’s stock price and earnings per share, after rumors of a proposed buyout to take the company private. PG probably has friends in corporate reporting land whose eyes are bugging out just thinking about this kind of a.rumor-mongering or b.) violation of confidential corporate communications. Both are bad.

      It may have a lot less to do with Amazon’s plans and the publishing industry than it does with trouble in the mall management and financing bubble.

      • Well, he could be spilling a competitor’s secrets to try to torpedo their deal.

        Fun story regardless.
        Won’t make the BPHs rethink their “back to print” drug-induced pipe dreams, but it’s bound to have made a few scream.

      • Perhaps he shorted B&N’s stock?
        Methinks the DOJ needs to check on this…
        ‘Unleash the Preston!’

        • Maybe he’s *negotiating* B&N leases.
          “The moment you vacate, Amazon will slip in.”
          😉

          Or maybe it’s the zillion GAMESTOP leases that just became available on top of the thousands of Radio Shack ones.

  9. My first thought upon reading this idea was for an “Amazon Returns” store. Instead of shipping your returned item back to amazon you ship or drop it off at the local return store. The item is then inspected and if good offered for local discount sale. It would probably same them money in the long run.

  10. Local Amazon bookstores everywhere would be a disaster.

    They would have to collect sales taxes each time you order online, even if they don’t carry locally what you are ordering.

    When I would buy from Lands End, before Sears bought them, no sales taxes paid with online orders. The minute Sears bought them I’m paying local sales taxes on each online order, even though the local Sears never carried the shirts in my size.

    When I order rolls of mylar from Brodart I have to pay sales tax even though the local store does not carry the rolls I buy.

    • Having to charge sales tax would giving up a major competitive advantage in some states. Very good point, well spotted Allyn!

    • But then again, Amazon already has to collect sales taxes in over half the country, and sooner or later—if the legislation they’re backing to simplify the sales tax accounting process passes—they’ll collect from everywhere anyway. So the sales tax thing isn’t necessarily an objection.

      Indeed, looked at another way, it could actually be a reason for them to go ahead with a chain of mall stores—if they already know they’re going to have to collect sales tax everywhere anyway, why not get the benefit of having local outlet stores out of it, too?

      There are plenty of other reasons the story is not credible, but the sales tax thing isn’t one of them.

      • You miss the point.

        Why am I having to pay sales tax on items that I can’t buy locally.

        • Because that’s the way sales tax laws work. If the business has facilities locally, then you pay sales tax on anything you buy from that business, even if it was shipped from facilities in another state.

          That’s not anything new with the Internet, either. As I noted in the link above, pre-Internet mail order businesses were taxed in exactly the same way.

  11. I have to wonder why Amazon opened that B&M store in Seattle if not to test drive a new business venture and have it be a pilot store/learning experiment.

    Yes, this article may be just an unsubstatiated rumor. But sometimes rumors can be true, even if inadvertently! 🙂

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