Twenty years after Amazon launched itself as an online bookstore, there are rumors that it might open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in its hometown of Seattle.
Amazon wouldn’t comment. But Shelf Awareness, a bookseller newsletter, published an item with some interesting hints.
The possible site is in University Village, an upscale outdoor mall north of the University of Washington that’s already home to thriving Apple and Microsoft stores.
Construction is underway at the site of a recently closed sushi restaurant at the mall.
Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development permits list the retailer moving into the space as “Ann Bookstore” and “Project Anne.” The first permit for the construction was issued on August 4, 2015.
The management office of University Village did not respond to a request for comment.
A GeekWire reporter who visited the site reported seeing boxes of books and bookshelves being installed there.
According to Shelf Awareness, none of Seattle’s large independent bookstores say it’s anything they’re working on.
Several employees of Seattle’s Third Place Books were contacted by Amazon about jobs via their LinkedIn pages a few months ago, said managing partner Robert Sindelar.
“Their resumes and credentials are that they’re tenured book sellers,” he said.
The employees weren’t told much when they called Amazon but from what they could piece together, it sounded like Amazon was hiring for some sort of retail bookstore, he said.
There have been rumors for years in Seattle’s bookselling community that Amazon might open a physical location but these are the most concrete.
Third Place Books runs two bookstores with another opening in 2016. Its flagship store is just a mile and a half from the potential new Amazon store.
Still, Sindelar isn’t worried. Customers come to his bookstores for their robust and deep selection of books as well as the “third place,” home away from home experience they offer.
“People say they’re going to be selling what we’re selling, so it’s going to eat into our business. But my core customer base isn’t supporting us because they can’t find books someplace else. People come here for the experience.”
SOURCE: USA Today – Elizabeth Weise