The new Amazon bookstore opened this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it is about 4 miles from my home! Good news? It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s exciting and it’s packed full of beautiful books. It’s sleek and modern looking with a hint of comfort in the architecture. There are samples of Kindles everywhere. Each salesperson has a tablet to help you look up a book directly. There is an amazing children’s section with tables, books and toys. There is a bulletin board in the back posting ways to support local authors and book lovers. It smells like books.
As you walk in, there are Best Selling books beautifully displayed front facing so you may see every title. As you tour the store, they have curated their books similarly to a traditional bookstore, such as categorized departments: Cooking, Nature, Children’s, Mystery, Science, Business, etc. However, they have some areas that are very Amazonian (yes, I just made that up). They have “Amazon Best Sellers”, and “Highest Amazon Ratings 4.5 and up”, and an entire area dedicated to Kindles.
Each book has a description card filled with information. There is no written abstract since they assume you can find that on the back of the book. Instead, the card contains a quote from the Amazon book review department, or a top reader review. They also have a bar code, and with the right app, you may scan and buy directly from Amazon.com. Right now, you cannot see online which books are offered in the store, but they said they are working on that.
There are no books that face spine out. Instead, they all face front out. I can only believe that there is a smaller inventory, which makes each space that much more desired!
Which brings me to my next point. How in the world do they curate so many books? Amazon is by far the largest book retailer in the world. How do they decide which books get such a coveted space on a brick and mortar shelf? So, I asked and it makes complete sense. It’s obviously not about supply, but solely on demand. They put forth books based on popularity of their online sales. So, if you have a Best Selling book on Amazon, most likely your book will appear on these shelves. But, that is only part of the algorithm. They also look at book reviews. They noted that while online sales are important, the reviews are just as important.
Amazon wants to highlight books that might not have the general audience awareness, but the small audiences that know of the book can have a voice also via reviews. Here is an prime example: Do Unto Animals is a new book written by Tracey Stewart. It is a NY Times and USA Today Best Seller. Oh, and she is Jon Stewart’s wife! Talk about having sales and popularity! One would expect this book to be on the front shelves at the front of the store. Instead, it doesn’t have many Amazon reviews, so it is hidden in the middle of the stacks in the back of the store buried in the Nature section. Needless to say, this is certainly a different approach than the traditional bookstores. One can argue that it is an Amazon monopoly and has too much control over what book is featured. But, looking more closely, the issue isn’t Amazon choosing, but it’s actually left to the consumer to write a review and decide which book gets the beautiful storefront.
Many have been disappointed in Amazon driving small book stores out of business. This way of curating, based much on reviews, puts the power back into the voice of the readers. If you like a book, make sure you give a positive review. Think of it as a “virtual suggestion box”, with a lot more power. You know that it will be directly heard as you see your review appear online. They also don’t discriminate by publisher. In fact, this is a complete non factor. If you have a self published book and you have many great reviews, you actually have a chance of getting into the Amazon stores as, say an award winning Best Seller!
As Amazon Book Stores open in different locations, they will always be hindered by physical space and will always be offering the best selling and most popular. Small bookstores are unique and I believe can still thrive alongside Amazon Book Stores. I won’t be surprised to see the smaller bookstores modify their offerings. They might not be an eclectic small book store, offering a dabbling of numerous categories. Instead, the smaller stores might be more topic specific, such as Sci-fi, or Comic book, or Religious, or Cooking. Amazon is changing the way the world curates reading. I hope that people shop this store. Because in the end, it’s offering books and we all know books are knowledge and power. Happy reading!
If you would like to write a review and help this local Seattle author get into the store, please visit Amazon.com and type my name, Erika Krebs. I have written two books, Fresh Start and Zozzy and Baz Rescue a Dog! You can also just click on the book titles here:
Zozzy and Baz Rescue a Dog