Last weekend, I visited the Amazon Bookstore up in Seattle’s University Village. While it wasn’t entirely what I was hoping for, it was certainly impressive, and it had quite a few great and/or unique points. If you’re a book lover of any sort, I would highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area. As a lover of Amazon, I was very keen to visit because I use their online site all the time. I’ve always been really impressed with the help and support you receive whenever you have an issue. As Salesforce has already stated, having some sort of help desk is absolutely essential. Consequentially, I just knew I’d love visiting an Amazon Bookstore.
That being said,
the Amazon Bookstore is a place you go for the experience, not because you want to buy books.
I think this is especially important to keep in mind for bloggers and avid readers. People who read a lot probably aren’t going to find this store as impressive as some indies and even chains like Barnes & Noble when it comes to selection and variety.
One downer was that I had already read most of the YA section when I got to the store, and I didn’t see too many titles I was unfamiliar with. While this may not be bothersome for the average person walking through the store, serious readers will notice a marked difference between this and legitimate bookstores.
Now, by legitimate bookstores, I mean bookstores that are there to sell books, not market other products. A good portion of the brick and mortar store is taken up by Amazon tech:
So yes, I was disappointed by the selection I found at the store, but
I loved the way each book there was featured and presented.
It struck me as the classier, more uniform version of what Powell’s does with it’s user reviews.
Not only that, but each book gets its own space on the wall. I noticed this while I was taking pictures of books to keep in mind later on. I do this at B&N a lot because I don’t want to buy every book there, but I do want to read many of them somewhere down the road.
In the comparison below, to the left is a picture I took at B&N about a month ago. To the right is a picture I took at the Amazon bookstore last week. (Pictures were taken on the same device under similar conditions).
The spacing between the books and the lighting in the pictures differs. While you can’t see the little card under the The Shadow Queen cover, it was under there. I think part of what comes with not being a ‘legitimate bookstore’ is the ability to take so much care with each book. B&N isn’t in the business of doing that. Powell’s is, in a way, but I haven’t seen anything like the Amazon Bookstore before.
As a side note, while we’re talking about pictures, the lighting in the Amazon Bookstore is much better than the lighting in B&N. I don’t know if someone thought the lighting through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. The picture above may not be the best example, but all of the cover pictures I took came out clear and pretty decent, and I can’t say the same for B&N.
The featuring doesn’t end with little cards and good lighting.
Amazon deserves credit for featuring books in ways that utilize the Internet and certain trends well. An example of this is the “If you liked that, read this” graphic that’s been showing up on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to market new books.
They also depended on Amazon reviews and Goodreads ratings/awards to give recommendations. I haven’t seen this done in a bookstore before either, though it’s common on social media.
While these aren’t the most original ideas, I thought they were executed very well. The design of the store all comes together to create something that’s fresh and exciting and has some great new ideas.
I especially loved the spaces that the store put together to give people places to read. I think that bookstores don’t create these kinds of spaces often enough, probably because it’s not their main objective to give book lovers a place to congregate (again, legitimate bookstore boundaries).
The kids area was pretty average in terms of play/reading space, but I really liked the window-side seating Amazon did to create a place for people to sit and get lost in their findings.
In essence, it’s a raised, cushioned cement block that runs along one side of the building. There are low tables built into the platform that are outfitted with tablets and outlets you can use.
There are countless little, decorative, thoughtful things about the Amazon bookstore that it can do because it’s not a ‘legitimate bookstore’. Or maybe just because it’s Amazon. Whatever the case, I’m interested to see where it will go from here.
All in all, I would recommend taking a look inside the place.
And yes, I did pick something up while I was there. I recently read Victoria Schwab’s newest title This Savage Song, and I liked it so much that I bought it. Normally, I wouldn’t buy a book so quickly, but I loved it, and the books I’m looking out for weren’t featured in-store. My review for TSS will be the next published post, and hopefully, I’ll be able to get my new copy signed when Victoria comes into town next!
You can see all of the pictures in the gallery below. And if you’re looking for an awesome meal to have after visiting UVillage, it’s a little bit out of the way but there’s a place called 8oz. Burger & Co. down in Ballard. It’s very much worth a visit. I recommend the garlic fries and their signature 8oz burger.