We follow the actions of Amazon.com closely, and we’ve watched as the corporation branches into ever more realms of business in its quest for perpetual growth. And though they’ve gone under the radar of most people, we knew Amazon has experimented with physical stores in the form of mall kiosks and Zappo’s (owned by Amazon) shoe outlets in Kentucky and Nevada.
Yet it still jolted us when Amazon announced it would open a walk-in bookstore in Seattle at University Village. Until a recent resurgence by independent bookstores, many people predicted Amazon largely would eliminate bricks-and-mortar general interest bookstores entirely. And now they’ve joined them.
Of course, Amazon executives have noticed the market share of e-books flattening rapidly and recognize the potential synergies between a dominating online presence and the convenience of being able to browse and purchase books in person.
The book store will stock a surprisingly sparse selection of less than 6,000 titles. By comparison, Elliot Bay Book Company, an independent a few miles south, boasts more than 150,000 titles, and Barnes and Noble closed a nearby store that was almost seven times as large as Amazon’s in 2011.
Amazon’s public relations department would not disclose whether additional stores are in development, but we now know at least one more store is under construction in San Diego.
Amazon also announced yesterday that it will offer parental leave for new fathers at its corporate headquarters in Seattle for the first time, while extending maternity leave for mothers. Most workers at Amazon distribution centers receive no such benefits.
The move follows controversy sparked by a recent New York Times story exposing the difficult work environment at corporate headquarters.
Credit to Shelf Awareness, the online book news site, for tipping us off to this story well before Amazon.com’s announcement.
For a curated collection of the best reporting on Amazon.com, see All About Amazon