In a surprising turn of events, Amazon — the giant electronic marketplace, which has been blamed for “killing” the publishing industry (and as a byproduct, the bookstore) — launched its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City on May 25th. Housed inside the third floor of the Times Warner Center in Columbus Circle, the 4,000-square-feet space carries 3,000 book titles and a variety of Amazon gadgets to satisfy bookworms and techies alike.
Back in 2011, Borders shuttered its outpost in the same shopping center shortly following the nearby closure of Barnes & Noble, formerly located at West 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue. Given the slew of closures, the future of the bookstore might seem bleak, but Amazon doesn’t seem deterred: a second Manhattan location is set to open on 34th Street this summer, which will join the 13 bookstores slated to open by the end of the year, according to Quartz.
We dropped by the newly launched outpost yesterday, which already had a line trailing out its front door. As expected of most bookstores, Amazon’s new location — the seventh physical retail store to open nationwide — offers a selection of popular genres, including romance, fiction and travel.
Unlike its surviving competitors, however, the Amazon bookstore also sources online data and aggregated reviews to present categories like “Hot in Amazon Books,” “Books with More Than 10,000 Reviews on Amazon.com” and “Highly Rated Self-Improvement Books – 4.5 Stars & Above.”
In addition to a small section that offers Amazon electronics like the Echo and Kindle, a series of tablets (for kids’ entertainment) and price scanners are dispersed throughout the store. The scanners are necessary as prices are not listed under each item: that’s because cost varies depending on whether or not you’re an Amazon Prime member. (Non-members pay full price.)
The store itself is a “physical extension of Amazon.com,” according to Jennifer Cast, the vice president of Amazon Books, on a press tour. It does not accept cash, and payments are made by scanning a QR code in the Prime app or by using a card.