November 3 was a big day for Amazon, with the opening of its first brick and mortar store, Amazon Books. The location? Seattle, of course. The 5,500-square-foot store inside the upscale University Village shopping mall replaced the former Blue C Sushi restaurant.
Who designed the store? Amazon relied on its in-house design team in collaboration with external partners, Amazon.com spokesperson Deborah Bass told AN.
Materials and layout are pretty traditional: there’s light wood, dark trim, brick, and narrow aisles. Many have made comparisons to the typical bookstore aesthetic of yore.
“The store, in Seattle’s University Village, is notably (and, of course, ironically) Barnes & Noble-like in its aesthetic. There’s a lot of wood. There are a lot of shelves. There are a lot of books! The dream of the 90s is alive in Seattle, apparently,” writes The Atlantic.
But forget the typical spine-out book layout. Instead, books are arranged cover-out, many alongside unedited (but oftentimes truncated) customer reviews from Amazon.com.
There’s an overt fusion of books and tech. Titles are stocked, influenced, and arranged by Amazon.com data and curators: customer ratings, top sellers lists, niche audience (“Most-Wished-For Cookbooks”, “Gifts for Young Adults”, “Coloring Books for Grown-ups”), purpose (“100 Books to Read in a Lifetime”) and of course, by genre. There are Amazon devices throughout: Kindles, Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, Echo.
Prices are the same as online. But there’s a catch: Amazon prices are not listed on the books themselves. Browsers must either download an Amazon app to scan the books for current prices or use one of the price-checking kiosks in the store.
Amazon Books is the second bookstore to open in U-Village, after Barnes and Noble closed in 2011.