Amazon opens its first brick-and-mortar bookstore

Amazon — the company that has changed the way Americans buy everything from books to laundry detergent — did something radical today. The e-commerce giant opened a brick and mortar bookstore just a few miles from its Seattle headquarters.

The move represents the exact opposite of the online company’s successful business model of the past 20 years. Amazon has been widely blamed for the demise of the bookstore, so why would the company do this?

“Amazon books is an extension of,” said Amazon Books Vice President Jennifer Cast. “The books in our store are selected based on customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments.”

Most of the almost 6,000 books at Amazon Books are rated four stars or more out of the company’s five-point rating system. All will be priced the same as online copies, but you have to use the Amazon app or kiosk to find the price — old-school book selling with a twist of modern technology.

What are some of the items on the shelf today? According to the Seattle Times, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos included a couple of his favorite titles as well as a book written by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos.

Making the most of the physical space, the bookstore will also serve as a retail space for Amazon devices like its popular Kindle, Amazon TVs, tablets and its newest device, Echo — a voice-controlled Bluetooth “smart” speaker.

There is no word on whether the company has plans to open more locations, but Cast told the Seattle Times, “we hope this is not our only one.”

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