Back in July of 1995, when Amazon.com hung out it’s original online-shingle as an online bookseller, I am not sure even the most imaginative of executives would ever have dreamed, let alone predicted, the level of growth or success that the company has achieved in the last 21 years. Today, there is virtually nothing you cannot buy through their company. And as a mother of four children, living in a rural area, I have regularly turned to Amazon to fulfill my material needs for everything from pens and peripherals to household necessities and hand-held electronics. However, ironically enough, books are the one thing I seldom buy from them.
This is because, in my opinion, buying books online is a little like buying shoes, while the selection is fantastic and the dress code is eminently more flexible, chances are without being able to actually try them on and test them out a little, you are never really going to know if they fit. As a solution to this dilemma, Amazon has been allowing shoppers to take a look at the first few chapters of many of their books online for years. But to be honest, this just isn’t the same.
I love to wander around the shelves, discovering new things on my way to what I think I am looking for, feeling the books in my hands, and (if I am honest about it) the ability to immediately begin reading whatever I have purchased. So when I heard that Amazon was opening a bookstore, my curiosity was definitely piqued.
Unsure of what to expect, and even less certain of how it would work, I was pleasantly surprised when life finally allowed me to go and investigate. Amazon Books is a remarkable combination of two seemingly incongruous worlds, the digital and the physical, all wrapped up in a stylish and utterly modern setting that actually works. On the one hand, you have all of the recommendations and ratings drawn from the joint forces of Goodreads and Amazon.com’s leviathan like databases. On the other hand, you have the tactile experience that can only be achieved in a brick and mortar bookstore. In other words, you are pretty much guaranteed to find any of the latest best sellers or timeless classics, in any category found in a typical mainstream bookstore, and that the prices will be competitive (or better) with those same bookstores.
However, unlike in any other bookstores I have ever seen, you will find all of the store’s selections lay on their shelves face out. This makes searching the in-stock titles quick and easy, especially if you know what the book looks like but cannot quite remember its title. Or better yet, if you don’t quite know what you are looking for, the store is filled with helpful lists and collections all drawn from the data gleaned from hundreds of thousands of shoppers around the globe. So whether you are looking for a gift for your favorite gamer, a book for your 8-year-old niece, or something for your grandson’s graduation, chances are, there is a helpful display somewhere in the store to help you find what you are looking for. Furthermore, like the databases it draws from, Amazon Books allows for titles to be placed in more than one category, making it even easier to find what you are looking for. If for whatever reason they don’t have what you want in the store, you can always order it online, they’ll even do it for you right there.