Last weekend found me in Seattle for a friend’s wedding. Weather forecast: Rain. As usual.
While there, I accidentally stumbled upon something amazing: the brand-new Amazon Books bookstore!
Little did I know, the store had opened up just over a month earlier, representing Amazon’s new experiment in brick-and-mortar book sales.
Why was this cool, other than the fact that it’s a bookstore? After interrogating a poor unsuspecting bookseller, I found out. In Amazon Books:
–All titles are displayed face-out. This means a smaller inventory, but it also means you’re much more likely to stumble upon a new read you didn’t know you needed in your life. Face-out titles=easier discovery of new books=more love matches made between books and readers.
–All titles are listed with a plaque featuring a review from Amazon.com–so you can basically ask another real human being, “How was this book?” and they’ll tell you. No filtering through publishers, professional review companies, etc. Just real people telling it like it is.
–No fixed prices are listed on the shelves. Instead, the bookstore has price-scanning machines. The price of the book is whatever it’s selling for on Amazon that day (usually a significant discount from the list price). Discounted books=yay!
–Best of all: Amazon Books stocks top-selling books from Amazon.com, regardless of whether they’re traditionally or independently published. That means readers, not publishers, are deciding what gets displayed and sold in this bookstore. Amazon’s Createspace and Kindle platforms have already democratized publishing; now Amazon Books is democratizing the bookselling supply chain as well. As an independently published author, I personally think that’s fantastic–not only for me, but for readers who get to see more of the books they want on the shelves.
Amazon sometimes gets a bad rap for being a big company, and a big company it is. I sincerely hope the success of this new bookstore doesn’t come at the expense of smaller, independent bookstores. However, Amazon’s existence also nurtures the success of other little guys, like small presses and independently published authors. It gives us a platform from which to send out our voices. And more voices in the book arena=more ideas and stories circulating=happier and better informed readers=hopefully more understanding and compassion in the world. I’d call that a win-win.
So did I come home with a book from this bookstore? Why yes, I did. For some time I’ve been wanting to read the bestselling I Am Malala, memoir of the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, and I found it at Amazon Books (for less than $10). Malala’s story of courage is truly inspiring.
What do you think of Amazon’s new bookselling experiment?