It’s being reported that Amazon is opening a physical store in Manhattan in time for the holiday season. The company hasn’t confirmed this, but the move has been a long time coming. Once Amazon started paying sales tax in many states, the main disadvantage of a physical store was removed (the physical space would have nulled sales tax exemptions).
I’ve blogged in the past about how physical spaces could benefit the company, from providing an outlet for same-day deliveries to showcasing their electronic devices. It’ll be interesting to see how they treat physical books, if they also highlight the works they publish in-house and maybe even a sampling of print-on-demand titles.
If the store is a success, one imagines it’ll be replicated elsewhere. Any city big enough to warrant an Apple or Microsoft store could use an Amazon store. If the newest Kindle is as sexy as it’s reported to be, the chance to go hands-on could be good for device sales (and then e-book sales). It’s fascinating to me that the same year publishers are making moves to have their own digital storefronts, Amazon might be making its first foray into physical storefronts.
In related news, The Economist has an incredible projection showing ebooks outselling print books by 2018 (it’s not clear, but there are forward buttons below the first chart so you can see the progression). Amazon’s storefront might include books, since their titles are blacklisted from many other chains, but the move to digital suggests any physical presence will be more about devices (phones, tablets, e-readers), accessories for those devices, and perhaps even top-selling items in various departments (like electronics, toys, fitness, cooking), combined with a same-day delivery hub and pick-up locker.
Imagine being a tourist in a major city, realizing you left a charger at home or wanting a very specific item, and knowing that you can order it on your phone and pick it up at the nearest Amazon store. It may change the way we shop when we aren’t in our pajamas.
All that’s left is for Google to open up shop. And build us a car to take us there.