WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE UPCOMING AMAZON BOOKSTORE

amazon-books

As we first reported last week, Amazon is preparing to open a bookstore called Amazon Books in the Shops at Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park. The company put up a sign on the third floor on the north side of the mall announcing the store will open in the Spring. The Wall Street Journal reported that it will be 4,000 square feet.

It’s a somewhat odd spot, if only because the casual shopper is unlikely to stroll into the store. The Borders store in that same mall was in the middle of the second floor. But it’s sure to receive destination traffic from tourists and locals because of the novelty alone. Amazon! A real store!

There are three other Amazon bookstores right now — in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, Ore. — but this is the first one on the East coast. Its design is likely to surprise New York book-lovers. Here are some things we’ve learned from reviews of the company’s other stores.

No doubt the store will draw customers at first, if only for the novelty. But will it have staying power? Will New Yorkers embrace the Amazon Book experience?

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 104 comments | permalink
    1. Diego says:

      if you shop here, you are a demon

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Insightful.

      • Beezelbub says:

        If that’s the case, then call me Beelzebub

      • EricaC says:

        I don’t shop amazon, and won’t shop here, because I don’t believe that their business model results in a world I want to live in. But others differ. Doesn’t make them a demon. We vote with our dollars for the world we want to live in, but as is all too clear these days, people don’t always want the same thing.

    2. weaJack says:

      Yep, demonize me, too. Can’t wait.

    3. Rita says:

      Will take a look at this store for the novelty. But when I buy it will be from either the wonderful book store, Book Culture, or Barns and Noble.
      More interested in having the book stores on the upper west side remaining alive and well.

    4. jean mensing says:

      It will attract New Yorkers if it has places to sit and maybe have coffee.

    5. henry says:

      confusing

      • Mary says:

        Book store – shelves with books facing forward. If you don’t see the book you are looking for, ask a store employee and they will order it and have it shipped to you. Simple enough.

    6. dannyboy says:

      “These factors make physical book-browsing somewhat similar to digital book-browsing”

      Amazon sells more books that remain unread than any bookshop.

      More for shoppers than readers.

    7. JDP says:

      So basically, Amazon is going backwards (brick & mortar stores) as a way of thinking forward? So novel. I’ll prefer a B&N if its going to take up that small upper space in the TWC.

      • Tom Lee says:

        Brick and mortar is far from dead! It’s not that people no longer shop at stores, they do. It’s more about people not shopping at stores that don’t offer any kind of “value proposition”. The same can be said for restaurants – if the the food is average, service is average, decor is blah…then it likely won’t be around very long.

        This store will do well and beyond that it will serve as a branding / image / marketing vehicle for Amazon in one of its largest target markets.

    8. Dale says:

      It is interesting to hear a reaction from someone about a store not being on a ground floor for a casual shopper to walk into … in most of the rest of the world (like asia) … shopping malls are vertical and can be as much as 12 stores of stores … because they are inside it is a better shopping experience … This seems to possibley be the future for retailing … I am sure that some will hate me for saying that … but every month a major department store or stores are closing across the nation … do we really need stores filled to the brim with merchandise?

    9. David Collins says:

      Can’t wait!

      This seems like the perfect balance between an off-putting place like Barnes & Noble, which has the feel of anything but a bookstore these days selling all sorts of junk, and an over-priced place like Book Culture.

      And, not only will I get to further leverage my Prime membership fee, but I will hopefully also continue to be able to use Amazon’s Smile program to donate money to charity.

      • dannyboy says:

        On the other hand, disagree about “over-priced place like Book Culture.”.

        There really is a book culture.

        And there is a book buying culture.

        • David Collins says:

          Not much to disagree on here – the facts speak for themselves. I have yet to find a book at Book Culture that is the same price or cheaper than I can buy at Amazon – and have part of my purchase go towards a charitable cause.

          And that is just regarding books. Paying $7 for a greeting card or $65 for a candle at Book Culture re-affirms the fact.

          • dannyboy says:

            Book Culture employs book lovers to speak to shoppers, who all meet in a common space. See WSR announcement of upcoming discussion (i’ll be there).

            Amazon lowers prices by squeezing authors and staff.

            Like the New Economy?

            P.S. You must know that the Amazon charity program is PR cover, right?

            • robert says:

              Sorry but look at the people set to “speak” about the election. Its going to be all one sided and a giant “oh Trump is so evil”. I’m not here to say he is or isn’t but if you want to have a really “discussion” you should be able to have a civil interaction with someone with views opposite yours. When we insist on wearing black and/or safety pins to protest an election you need to get over it. For better or worse Trump will be president for 4 years. If he is successfully maybe 8, if not he will be out in 4. The country survived a civil war, two world wars etc, Nixon, Carter, Both Bush’s and Obama. And guess what the country will be here long after Trump leaves office and there will be good and bad times to the countries future, just as it has in the past

            • dannyboy says:

              OK sure.

      • EricaC says:

        I really don’t find Book Culture overpriced. It is true they don’t squeeze suppliers the way amazon does (one reason I don’t shop at amazon), but they sell at list price – so others who want to go shopping shouldn’t be scared off by this sort of comment.

      • Sarah says:

        “an over-priced place like Book Culture”

        If it’s accurate that non-Prime members will be paying list price for books, you certainly won’t be doing any better (as a non-Prime member) at this store than at BC.

    10. UWSHebrew says:

      chain bookstores are going the way of the dodo. amazon does not care if this experiment is a success or not, they have so much money they can lose tens of millions and not bat an eye. eventually all barnes and noble will close, I don’t think there will be one B & N in existence by 2022.

      • dannyboy says:

        Correct conclusion.

        Support local booksellers!

        • David Collins says:

          Huh?! Why not support a company like Amazon that employees over 268,000 people, mostly in the United States? Why not support a company like Amazon that so many people own stock in be it in their 401K or pension fund? Why not support a company like Amazon that is innovating and providing a great service to millions of people?

          • dannyboy says:

            read my Comments above for those reasons

            • Robert says:

              OK sure.

            • dannyboy says:

              more explanations:

              EricaC says:
              January 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm
              I’m actually dismayed to see this. Amazon not only has benefits of scale, but it is known to be pretty aggressive in squeezing suppliers – which means it is likely to be a fierce (and if you feel, as I do, that suppliers should only be squeezed to a certain extent, unfair) competitor. I want to see these other bookstores in the neighborhood survive and thrive.
              I’m probably one of five people in the world that doesn’t use amazon because of the issues with amazon, but I don’t want them coming here and eliminating my favorite alternatives!

              Lsilver212 says:
              January 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm
              While I do a lot of shopping at Amazon online, I won’t go to their bookstore – I want to support the local bookshop on Columbus Avenue in the low eighties. No more giants forcing small stores to close. Enough already. The Upper West Side looks very different with all the big box stores.
              uneasy reader says:
              January 4, 2017 at 2:28 pm
              Amazon continues in its quest to take over the world! I’ve boycotted buying books from them (in any format) ever since they put the squeeze on publishers a few years back. They are NOT the publishing industry’s friend.

              UWSbookseller says:
              January 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm
              Opening a single new brick-and-mortar store will hardly make up for all the independent bookstores (and other retailers) that Amazon has shuttered or hurt.
              http://bookweb.org/news/updated-study-drives-home-amazon’s-negative-impact-economy-34613

          • EricaC says:

            All true. But the impact on many of their suppliers has been negative and, frankly, I simply am uncomfortable having one entity have so much control over the availability of books. I haven’t seen signs of them trying to suppress anyone in particular (other than individual authors with whom they have disputes), but I think there should be multiple avenues to obtain printed books.

            And I think it is good to shop from neighbors. Jobs for anyone is good – though I don’t limit my concern to this country – but jobs for neighbors in the city I love is even better for me.

            And I like being able to pick up the book and check it out before I buy it.

            So, I shop local. To each his or her own. But it is a good idea to think about what kind of city you want and spend your dollars accordingly. And if you are disappointed at what world your neighbors want, maybe you have to look for new neighbors.

            • David Collins says:

              They employee over 265,000 people and have basically made e-commerce what it is today which has helped millions and millions of people and communities all around the world. They have great customer service, fair prices, give generously to charity…Please get off your high horse and stop living in an echo chamber of liberal ideology where anything related to corporate / big / wall street is bad.

    11. Carlos says:

      I personally like this place called “the library.” All the books you could ever want and the price is right!

      • dannyboy says:

        Amazon squeezed library funding too.

        Enjoy The New Economy.

        Fewer libraries, bookshops etc. You never have to meet your neighbors.

        • Juan says:

          Amazon is also occupying an otherwise empty storefront. This generates tax dollars (both property and sales). These tax dollars are used in part to finance libraries. I believe that Amazon now also must charge sales tax on internet purchases shipped to NY.

          And you are complaining that Amazon is reducing the number of bookshops in the comments on an article about Amazon opening a new bookshop?

          • dannyboy says:

            You have already announced your hatred of the entire generation:

            “I guess it is true that the Baby Boomers are the most selfish and entitled generation ever.

            “The Greatest Generation is turning in their graves at how you have tarnished their amazing legacy. SAD” – SouthernGentleman December 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

      • Claude says:

        I agree. I don’t get why it is a badge of honor and a proof of intellectualism and worldliness for some people to own as many books as possible. To me it is a sign of a cluttered home.

        • dannyboy says:

          don’t like books, huh?

          • Claude says:

            I love books. But I read a book then generally don’t need it anymore. I live in a Manhattan apartment with a finite amount of space. Books that I will never read again collecting dust is not an ideal use of that space. I do retain books for my children as they re-read them.

            • dannyboy says:

              YES!

              My children continue to “borrow” our books.

              The extra reward is that they “return” different books which they think we’ll enjoy.

              My bookshelves are always filled, and I buy bookcase more often than furniture.

          • GG says:

            Personally i’m into pseudo-intellectual posers and people who collect books and display them as if they were trophies. Half of them never even cracked, desperately trying to impress those around them.

            • dannyboy says:

              Love my book collection. Often send a couple of volumes to friends. Some are out on “loan” to authors.

              An irrevocable trust for future readers.

        • BourbonBetty says:

          Sometimes my library books have Boogers and other weird stuff on the pages.
          Ick!!!

    12. Carlos says:

      For all of the demonizing of Amazon here, it also makes available many books that it is not economical for a traditional book store to carry given space constraints. And it makes books available to those who either live far from bookstores (yes, not everyone in America lives in NYC!) or cannot easily get out of their home to go to a bookstore.

      For every copy of a book sold on Amazon for which the author was squeezed on the price, there are also numerous copies of the book sold through Amazon that otherwise would not have been sold at all.

      Finally, it is the profits of Amazon that allowed Jeff Bezos to purchase one of our nation’s great newspapers, The Washington Post, and allow it to continue to be one of the few remaining bastions of semi-decent journalism when otherwise it might have ceased to exist.

      • EricaC says:

        I’m not demonizing amazon, just explaining why I personally don’t shop there. I have other reasons too. I have been happy to see the Washington Post recover a bit of its strength and hope it continues.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        The Washington Post is a radical left wing rag. It is in good company with the NYT.

        • Carlos says:

          dannyboy – I find it interesting that you are very pro small local businesses and against large corporations yet in another post you noted with pride your 30 years on Wall Street. I am guessing you worked for one of the large banks now running the world and not Small Town Bank and Trust?

          I too try to support local businesses but there is also a place in the world for chains and big companies. Amazon definitely has its faults but is also a very useful resource for many people, and I’m sure the people of Seattle and many of the towns where it has distribution centers are very happy that it exists and is creating jobs.

          • dannyboy says:

            I am pro small businesses and large businesses that conduct themselves with good business practices.

            Why the binary choice?
            Do I have to choose only one?

            • Nathan says:

              Amazon said Thursday that it plans to create more than 100,000 “full-time, full-benefit” jobs in the US over the next 18 months.

          • dannyboy says:

            So Nathan,

            You believe that Amazon falls into the category of “large businesses that conduct themselves with good business practices” because they issued a Press Release that you swallowed hook, line and sinker?

            Now you believe that you can overlook all their other crappy business practices because they are turning part-time warehouse order pickers into full time $15 jobs, and adding lots of delivery men and delivery women that they are a great company?

    13. koala1 says:

      Great news!

    14. booklover says:

      Think twice before supporting Amazon. More book lovers should know that Amazon cheats authors by buying thousands of new books that are “damaged”from the printer, and then they sell those books for discount prices. They make a profit on these books by cutting the author out of the loop. The author doesn’t get royalties on these copies, nor are those copies counted as sales. This is the sort of bad-business activity that destroys careers and culture.

      • robert says:

        sorry but this is not so. Each sale on Amazon, B&N.com etc is automatically electronically reported to “Bookscan”. They are the book sales tabulators for the industry. Checking there numbers with the numbers on Amazon sales reported in their tax filings match up.
        You be confusing the books Amzon sells and/or donates to charitable originaisations, like Godard Riverside when they and others have book sales to fund raise

        • booklover says:

          Sadly, it is true. Few people are aware that even new books are sometimes sold by Amazon as “Bargain Books.” Bargain books are not tracked by Bookscan, nor do authors get royalties. The loophole is that they are categorized as “damaged books” or “remainders” although they look unblemished if you order them.

      • Tom Lee says:

        They employee over 265,000 people and have basically made e-commerce what it is today which has helped millions and millions of people and communities all around the world. They have great customer service, fair prices, give generously to charity…Please get off your high horse and stop living in an echo chamber of liberal ideology where anything related to corporate / big / wall street is bad.

        • booklover says:

          This isn’t about demonizing Wall Street/Big Business. It’s about a company that cheats authors in many ways. One common trick of theirs is to buy the percentage of a print run that is “damaged” and sell those copies as “Bargain Books” which are exempt from royalties and aren’t counted by Bookscan. Bad for authors, bad for culture.

    15. robert says:

      You can call me what ever you want. I read at least a book a week, call me an addict. Mostly heavy science, history and politics. Things the NYPL never caries, I have tried hundreds of times and its not cost effective to carry the stuff I read.
      I also regularly shop at local independent bookstores, but I find must of these on the UWS very one sided in the areas of my interest. That said I’m quite sure Berrine’s new book sold very well on the UWS, so there is no reason why stores like Book Culture could not discount them 30%. You make it up on the volume of sales.

    16. John says:

      Sounds like a bad business plan, rent will be so high they wont be able to make any money

      • Pat says:

        Like 378 billion market cap company cares about rent at one store – again this is not about just selling enough stuff in the store to pay for rent, it’s as much if not more about branding and visibility in a key market for them, NYC. The store will likely be part of the marketing/advertising budget. Having said that, they might actually do very well. Not sure how it’s much different than say William Sonoma or Sephora, both companies with successful stores in the Time Warner Center.

        • dannyboy says:

          “more about branding and visibility in a key market for them, NYC. The store will likely be part of the marketing/advertising budget.”

          Hey, let’s all support Amazon’s Marketing Plan!

          No need for booklovers and booksellers, we got MARKETING.

    17. Anna says:

      I love Book Culture on Columbus (bet 81st and 82nd, if you haven’t been there yet). The store is cheerful and welcoming and has nice lighting. They have regular readings and book club meetings. The staff are unfailingly friendly and helpful in a way that’s rare in NYC.

      They have a nice sale table that’s regularly replenished, and lots of fun stuff besides books (letterpress cards, cute kitchen accessories, bags, etc.) although the books are the main attraction. I like the book selection – it’s a great place to browse. It feels like there are actual book lovers behind the store design, not just marketing surveys.

      I won’t shop at the new amazon store because I want Book Culture to survive. All the character goes out of a neighborhood when it fills up with chain stores and we’ve had enough of that here already.

    18. Nancy says:

      I love Amazon.

      They have great customer service, an outstanding website, unrivaled product offering, infinite information to base your purchase around,… They even recommend books for you based on your prior purchases or browsing history. The experience is just great – something that’s rare in NYC.

      They have great deals and lots of fun stuff besides books (letterpress cards, cute kitchen accessories, bags, etc.) although the books are the main attraction. I like the book selection – it’s a great place to browse. And when you read the review, it’s clear that they are written by actual book lovers behind the website design, not just marketing surveys.

      I won’t shop at the recently opened Book Culture store because I want Amazon to survive and keep 268,000 employed. All the character goes out of a neighborhood when it fills up un-employed residents and we’ve had enough of that here already.

      • Anna says:

        I’m glad you liked my words about Book Culture so much that you copied and pasted them. Too bad you couldn’t come up with more of your own words to accurately describe Amazon. Do you work for them?

        How long have you lived in this neighborhood, assuming that you actually do? Do you actually remember what it was like before it was a magnet for chain stores?

        I have used Amazon online and I like their convenience on occasion, but what I want are OPTIONS.

        I want some small, homey, local, unique stores to browse in. I want to be in a real NYC store, not one that’s interchangeable with stores across the country.

        I want shops where I can talk to staff who are not dictated to by a big corporation about what they can say or recommend, what opinions about the merchandise they can share.

        The problem isn’t that the Amazon store is opening up in this neighborhood. The problem is that they might end up being the ONLY bookstore. We ought to have CHOICES. The more these corporate chains eat up everything, the more all our choices disappear.

        It’s not just about bookstores, it’s about how we live and think, where the freedom for idiosyncrasy and uniqueness is. We are dominated by a culture of branding, with choices made by marketing experts and algorithms, not individuals. We’re told we need to “brand” ourselves. There are fewer and fewer spaces where this is not the norm. Everywhere you go things are slick and bright and cold and impersonal.

        We’re never going back to the days of NYC mom-and-pop stores that belonged to particular neighborhoods and were answerable to the residents of those neighborhoods, but it would be nice if we retained SOME choices besides the corporate chain stores.

        • Mark says:

          Actually, the opening of Amazon provides another choice.
          So is it really that you believe people should have choices?
          Or is it that you want people to have choices of which you personally approve?

          • Anna says:

            Like I already said, the problem isn’t that the Amazon store is opening, the problem is the impact it will have on the smaller stores. If you think it won’t have an impact, your head is in the sand or you just don’t care. This is not the same thing as a new independent bookstore opening. That represents increased choice and I’m all for it.

            As for the increased jobs, what do you think will happen when the ONLY jobs available are through large corporate chains which are answerable only to stockholders?
            Some of these companies might offer full-time, full-benefits jobs at the beginning to reduce resistance and pretend that they actually give a hoot about the community they’re taking over, but once there are no other options for employment and workers have no leverage, those benefits and hours can easily evaporate. Amazon has a tremendous amount of power and no union.

            Search on “How Amazon Crushed the Union Movement” and the website for insider criticism about the Amazon working environment, “THE FACE OF AMAZON.”

            • Mark says:

              I was commenting on your concern with “choice”.
              You clearly contradicted yourself on that and your response didn’t clarify at all.

              Sure, large chains can and do affect independent stores.
              But at the same time, I believe that people value independent businesses (see the article on Joseph Pharmacy from a couple of weeks ago) and will continue to patronize them, even if they do pay a little bit more.
              I don’t buy into the doomsday scenario that you describe.

            • Cyrus says:

              If Amazon crushed the Union movement, that’s one more reason to shop there

          • Anna says:

            Mark, I don’t “clearly contradict myself,” you’re just failing to understand, or willfully ignoring, my meaning.

            Here’s my meaning:

            If the opening of an Amazon store was just one more bookstore among many, then I’d be fine with it. The more the merrier.

            However, the opening of big corporate chain bookstores have been known to have a negative impact on the survival of small, local, independent bookstores.

            Therefore the opening of the Amazon bookstore will very likely lead to a REDUCTION OF CHOICE of bookstores.

            The opening of another independent bookstore would not likely have the same impact. So I’m fine with that kind of increased choice.

            An example of this in another product area:

            The Upper West Side used to have a lot of small, independent health food stores. They had product overlap with each other, but they also each had some specialties, some small brands that only they seemed to carry. We had a lot of choice, both of price and of brands. Some of them had very knowledgeable long-time staff who could make recommendations based on their experience and expertise.

            Now we have pretty much only Whole Foods (and to a more limited extent, the upstairs floor of Fairway). This is partly just a result of the crazy-high rent prices in this area, but it’s also because any hold out health food stores in the area lost any possibility of surviving once Whole Foods appeared.

            I don’t hate Whole Foods – it has its place – but I miss all those little health food stores and the small brands they carried. The addition of whole Foods = less choice in the long run. not more choice.

            I don’t hate Amazon, but I don’t want it barging in and destroying the smaller bookstores I enjoy. They’ve already taken over my favorite online book site, GoodReads, why do they have to take over everything book-related? I am not in favor of that.

            Amazon = less choice of things that are not Amazon. It is not a neutral addition to the neighborhood.

            • Mark says:

              You are anticipating that Amazon will lead to the closure of smaller bookstores.
              That isn’t a given.
              And just because a particular store is small and independent doesn’t automatically confer superiority.
              Some small stores close because they don’t offer what the neighborhood wants.
              The same thing happens to big stores.
              Didn’t we just lose a BBB?

              So people of the neighborhood will choose which stores to shop in.
              That’s the way it works in a free society.

            • dannyboy says:

              The health foods at Health Nuts is worth a visit. I shopped there today and, in addition to health foods, I bought prepared Indian food for lunch and dinner.

              Plus, the man at the register did a swirl with the bag before he packed up,similar to what pizza makers do with the dough.

        • Rob says:

          You make no sense – other than wanting something for the sake of wanting something, perhaps for not knowing any better.

      • EricaC says:

        Clever. Snarky, but clever.

        For me, it doesn’t overcome the issue of control over printed material, or the preference for a walkable neighborhood with stores.

        Still, cute response.

    19. Cisco Adler says:

      Love it!

    20. Nancy says:

      Amazon said Thursday that it plans to create more than 100,000 “full-time, full-benefit” jobs in the US over the next 18 months.

      • dannyboy says:

        Wow, that was fast!

        Amazon’s Press Release goes viral on WSR. Same post within ONE minute.

      • TaxpayerMooch says:

        It’s fun to watch people complain about the creation of good jobs.

        “But they’re not the jobs I approve of!!”

        • dannyboy says:

          This is the expansion of Amazon’s delivery fleet (FBA, or Fullfilled by Amazon) and will be directly offset by the appropriate amount of USPS, UPS, and FedEx job cuts. All those unmarked white vans delivering your stuff are a new BU called FBA.

          delivery boys and delivery girls. I do prefer that my children work in a bookshop.

          • Nick says:

            We would all prefer if you spent your time somewhere else.

            The new positions” “Are for people all across the country and with all types of experience, education and skill levels — from engineers and software developers to those seeking entry-level positions and on-the-job training,” Amazon said.

            • dannyboy says:

              “…Amazon said”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              you repost Amazon’s Press Release as the counter to the RESEARCH data that I provided.

              And this on a Community Blog.

              Then, assume the role as spokesperson for the entire community, state “We would all prefer if you spent your time somewhere else.”

              read a book

      • Mark says:

        The three links you provide are pretty silly.

        The first is called “How Amazon Crushed the Union Movement”.
        Umm, no. It didn’t crush “the union movement”. It fought its workers from unionizing. That is far different from “crushing the union movement”.

        The second two are sponsored by former disgruntled employees. You can find similar websites for all kinds of employers.

        Do you have anything that is less emotional and more analytical that can shed light on the evils of Amazon?

        • Anna says:

          I’m sorry you’re so uncomfortable with strong emotions in articles, Mark. I suggest you do your own homework to find articles critical of amazon that match your tolerance level and preferences.

          There may be many websites for unhappy employees to vent their grievances, but not all toxic workplaces have been reviewed in NYT articles.
          https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?_r=0

          • Mark says:

            I honestly don’t understand your reply.

            Are you actually suggesting that highly biased opinions are more relevant than a reasoned, careful approach to the examination of a topic?

            My point is that a more analytical article would better serve your argument.

            Ranting from former employees is exactly that – ranting.

        • booklover says:

          Yes. See #14 above. Amazon cheats authors of royalties and sales figures. It’s a common occurrence. Most buyers might not care at first glance, but in the larger scheme of things this is bad for culture.

    21. Amazon says:

      YES! Amazon rocks!