November 3, 2015

Amazon finally finds a store that will carry books from Amazon Publishing


Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, shows a photographer where you can finally find one of her publications

An elated Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, shows a photographer a shelf of books in the new Amazon bookstore that she actually published.

A thing long thought laughable, although a thing long predicted, has finally come to pass: Amazon is opening its own, brick-and-mortar bookstore today in Seattle.

The fact that they were going to do this—and were in fact proceeding to do it in the squirrely, secret way that Amazon always proceeds, even though it’s happening in Seattle, a city Amazon pretty much owns now and you’d think they felt safe in—was first reported by industry newsletter Shelf Awareness.

A Seattle Times report filed late yesterday by reporter Jay Green confirms that Shelf Awareness had the details spot on—the internet behemoth that seemed determined to put brick and mortar stores out of business will be opening a 5500 square foot store of its own in a shopping area called University Village, and it did indeed manage to lure away turncoats from nearby indie Third Place Books

The Seattle Times report adds a few other details similarly dripping with, you know, irony:

And the company also has included a staff-favorites section that will change from time to time. For the opening, the section includes a few of Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ favorite titles, including “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “Traps” by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos.

“A page-turner written by an award-winning novelist, who also happens to be my wife,” Bezos writes.

Of course, the whole enterprise could turn out to be an education for the world’s greatest online retailer, just like when it decided—after years of saying that the model for traditional publishing houses was broken and anti-author and anti-reader—to open a publishing house that looked very much like all the other big publishing houses. That didn’t turn out so well.

For now, though, as the original Shelf Awareness story noted, at least it will provide “a way to ensure that Amazon Publishing titles finally get onto at least one bookstore‘s shelves.”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.