When Barnes & Noble announced that they wouldn’t shelve books published by Amazon imprints (Createspace, Amazon Crossing AmazonEncore, Amazon NY, Thomas & Mercer, 47North, and Montlake Romance) the first thing I wondered was ‘What if Amazon opened up their own brick and mortar bookstores?’
Low and behold, Amazon did release press in February that they were developing their first physical bookshop in the Seattle area, but any further developments have been kept on the down-low.
I can't be the only one who's wondered how this development could affect B&N?
Let us ponder...
Amazon would have the heavy advantage of knowing what appeals to buyers in the selected area beforehand, based on online sales.
They’d know what books and titles are selling well, who’s buying what, and how they should stock their shelves for maximum profit. Trial and error would be online-based and involve little room for physical financial loss- unlike what traditional publishers face with current brick and mortar booksellers every time they launch a new book into the world. So, not only would Amazon be able to serve customers the same (if not better targeted) stock as B&N, but they’d probably do so at a more competitive price.
Not to mention the monopoly they would have over books published under the above Amazon imprints, - the ones that B&N simply refuses to sell on principle.
Years ago, Barnes & Noble and Borders swept across the nation, targeting areas where independent booksellers were already thriving. They opened up their bigger, more comfortable, cheaper bookshops and slowly squeezed the life out of independents and smaller chains like a some kind of death weed.
But Amazon’s online business continued to grow and thrive as more and more people turned to internet shopping. And it wasn’t long before their business began detracting from the power that was the brick and mortar. Borders paid the price when they couldn’t adapt fast enough (or enough in general) and B&N is currently struggling to maintain some sense of competition with the monster that is Amazon.
But I have to wonder, will they be able to compete if Amazon ever decides to adapt the same business practices that B&N employed twenty years ago and invest in physical stores on a massive scale?
Not that I think Amazon will take this route. Truth is, they don’t really need physical bookshops to succeed and don’t seem to have an interest in become THE central bookstore chain of America. But if B&N doesn't stop trying to save their own business by blocking Amazon’s, I’m afraid it won’t leave them much of a choice.
Do you think/hope Amazon will somehow become the next big physical bookseller? If not, how are you hoping the tide will turn when it comes to B&N? Do you think that independents will rise to the forefront with the decline of the chainstore? Or that B&N will somehow find a way thrive?