After decimating the retail landscape, Amazon has been opening physical bookstores across the country.
An FKD Feature exclusive

Amazon opened an Amazon Books retail location in the heart of America’s publishing industry, NYC on May 25. The brick-and-mortar location serves to represent the company’s latest efforts of expanding into the physical bookstore industry, but the store’s design holds a classic Amazon twist that sets it apart from its competitors.

The store

Amazon Books’ New York City location will be the seventh physical bookstore opened by Amazon, joining locations in San Diego, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, its hometown. The bookstore incorporates many components of the online website in its design. Most books are required to have an average rating above 4 out of 5 stars to be accepted into Amazon’s exclusive, 3,000-title list.  

The store’s format serves as a physical extension of’s layout techniques, as the store uses data and algorithms to tailor its selections to customers’ desires. The bookstores choose titles based on data about how well a book will sell.  

While independent bookstores maximize the amount of books on their shelves by aligning them spines-out, Amazon’s NYC location aligns its books faces-out. While this decision severely limits the amount of books that can take hold in its limited, 4,000-square-foot space, it also allows for each book to edge out shelf space and attention for itself.

Amazon’s roots

The online retail giant started out as a fierce competitor to the physical bookselling industry.  Amazon took shape as an online store that focused primarily on selling books in its formative years. Now, Amazon has solidified itself as the world’s largest online retailer, with a strong hand in building a $1 billion eBook industry.

As Amazon’s online book sales increased, physical bookstore giants such as Borders and Barnes & Noble were forced to scramble to compete, but their efforts were decimated by Amazon’s powerful online sales system and eBook market.

Barnes & Noble used to have an enormous location just a few blocks away from Amazon’s new NYC bookstore. However, Barnes & Noble closed its massive NYC shop because the company was in the midst of a losing fight with Amazon’s bookselling approach.

Will Amazon keep winning?

While Amazon is taking its footing in the midst of a market it has competed with for years, its online approach might not translate to the comfy, cozy, book-holding format of what makes physical bookstores successful. Amazon’s cold and verbose user info rests beneath each and every book on its shelves, something that could serve as a promising reminder of a book’s quality, or a wordy deterrent to a potential customer.  

The store also attempts to engage customers with other components of the Amazon empire.

Its store layout has a section specifically dedicated to Amazon devices, such as the Echo digital voice assistant or Fire TV tablet. It also encourages customers to gain a discount on books by joining Amazon Prime, instead of paying list price.


The retail powerhouse’s foray into physical bookstores may be unorthodox, and its unusual store layout will not appeal to everyone. However, Amazon’s data-oriented business model made them the retail powerhouse it is today.  

Regardless of whether or not Amazon Books’ data-driven models fit in the physical bookstore market, Amazon has already proven itself as a powerful competitor and a force to be reckoned with.

Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Header image: Getty Images


Posted 05.31.2017 - 04:57 pm EDT