All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again…

by on November 2, 2015 at 9:57 pm in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink

At 9:30 Tuesday morning, the online retail giant will open its first-ever brick-and-mortar retail store in its 20-year life in University Village.

The store, called Amazon Books, looks a lot like bookstores that populate malls across the country. Its wood shelves are stocked with 5,000 to 6,000 titles, best-sellers as well as customer favorites.

Here is more, via M.

1 Ray Lopez November 2, 2015 at 10:01 pm

What’s old is new again. I expect more comments on this important story.

2 JR November 3, 2015 at 6:14 am

This is the longest of “long con’s”.

3 Rahul November 2, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Will the books be priced same as online?

4 Ray Lopez November 2, 2015 at 10:17 pm

I doubt it, as Amazon is famous for differential pricing, using ‘geolocation’ to figure out for example where you are, so they can direct you to the local server that services you area and may have higher prices than other servers (since distributed server models, which everybody uses now, does not have a single “central server” with all the same prices…one of these days a clever class action attorney will seize on this computer science reality to try and make a quick buck with a nuisance suit).

OT – this belongs in the other thread, but Krugman is very humble and hits a home run with this post on deflation:

(even though I don’t agree that monetarism works, Krugman’s arguments are logical and he also changed his mind at bit since 1998 about Japan, which shows he’s not arrogant or too ideological)

5 Evan Van Ness November 2, 2015 at 11:10 pm

> I doubt it, as Amazon is famous for differential pricing

From the article:

> Amazon will charge the same price for books in the store as it does online.

6 Ray Lopez November 2, 2015 at 11:26 pm

But online Amazon charges various prices for the same thing. Google this, like I will now…. second hit, citing WSJ article:

As it turns out, the phenomenon is still going, and according to The Wall Street Journal, it’s just as widespread as it used to be:

The Journal identified several companies, including Staples, Discover Financial Services, Rosetta Stone Inc.and Home Depot Inc., that were consistently adjusting prices and displaying different product offers based on a range of characteristics that could be discovered about the user. Office Depot, for example, told the Journal that it uses “customers’ browsing history and geolocation” to vary the offers and products it displays to a visitor to its site.

7 you're welcome November 3, 2015 at 12:05 am

Pro tip: always google “how am I going to pay my rent” before shopping on Amazon.

8 Nikki November 3, 2015 at 12:39 am

But the brick-and-mortar store’s location is fixed. Same price as online for that location, presumably?

BTW, they differentiate prices based on the billing address (or maybe the delivery address, but it applies to Kindle books as well), not geolocation. Browse from abroad while signed out, then sign in: chances are you’ll get different prices.

9 Thomas November 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

To Hell with all them!

10 better resurrection November 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
-PL Travers

Yeah, hubris, greed, media hype, and finally, the big bust and empty muppet trading accounts.

11 chuck martel November 2, 2015 at 11:19 pm

“It will use data to pick titles that will most appeal to Seattle shoppers.”

Evidently the Seattle flock of sheep has different tastes than the Chicago flock.

12 dearieme November 3, 2015 at 7:43 am

“What to do on a rainy day”? “How to choose an umbrella”?

13 HL November 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

They will both stock “How to draft an elite quarterback”

14 Lord Action November 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm

+1 That was funny.

15 msgkings November 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Seattle is doing just fine with thier current QB. Chicago not so much.

16 James McCammon November 2, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Oh, it’s just down the street from my house. I’ll have to check it out.

17 James McCammon November 2, 2015 at 11:53 pm

The ironic thing is that until a couple of years ago there was a Barnes & Noble in the same complex.

18 datroof jackson November 3, 2015 at 12:00 am

That is perhaps the least ironic thing I’ve heard today.

19 Rahul November 3, 2015 at 12:08 am

That sounds more logical than ironic.

20 Florian November 3, 2015 at 3:28 am

Yeah, it’s like raiiiiiiyyyyn on your wedding day, amirite?

21 Axa November 3, 2015 at 5:22 am

Some customers still need a place where to talk with other book customers. Also, people like signed books. Other bookstores may refuse to let authors sign books purchased in Amazon.

The book as fetish object, not information conveyor.

22 Rahul November 3, 2015 at 9:28 am

Is there a market for pre-signed books? The online seller could charge a premium.

23 JWatts November 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

Yes there is and they frequently do charge a premium for signed editions.

24 Axa November 3, 2015 at 11:24 am

haha….but presigned editions do not include awkward photo with the author.

25 Mitch Berkson November 3, 2015 at 8:41 am

Do they have a web site? How much is shipping?

26 msgkings November 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm


27 Urstoff November 3, 2015 at 9:04 am

So what does being a Prime member get me at this store?

28 wise guy eh November 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

I’ll show you a prime member.

29 freethinker November 3, 2015 at 9:14 am

So Amazon used predatory pricing to shut down brick-and-mortar shops with its online business and after enough of them are closed, Amazon opens its own brick-and-mortar shop?

30 Urstoff November 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

Predatory pricing! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

31 JWatts November 3, 2015 at 11:03 am

Amazon is charging the same price at the store as they do online. So, there’s no indication they were using predatory pricing in the first place.

32 Jay November 3, 2015 at 12:59 pm

I don’t think predatory pricing means what you think it does.

33 lexicographer November 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

competitive = predatory, to the uncompetitive

34 Attila Smith November 3, 2015 at 3:36 pm

In France we translate “competitive” as “concurrence déloyale” (=unfair competition). To counter those competitive thugs France since August 10th, 1981 compels all vendors to sell books at the same price, the “Prix unique du livre” (

35 dan1111 November 4, 2015 at 2:24 am

A big corporation does something that hurts slightly smaller corporations but directly benefits consumers. Why again are we supposed to think this is bad?

The idea, I suppose, is that eventually Amazon will use its dominance to impose higher prices, but this is not possible, given that online competition is not going away. Amazon clearly does not expect to ever be the sole book seller in the world, since they even allow independent sellers on their own site (who are free to undercut them in pricing).

36 Gochujang November 3, 2015 at 9:37 am

Casually interesting, as a measure of how Amazon executives occupy themselves, but the data would be online sales in relation to all retail.

37 Gochujang November 3, 2015 at 9:46 am

The differential pricing issue Ray raises above is interesting, but per a Whitehouse PDF:

Although a few studies have tried to detect differential pricing online, current knowledge is mainly anecdotal. Companies naturally protect information about pricing strategies for competitive reasons, and perhaps also for fear of a customer backlash. Nevertheless, the anecdotes suggest that we have not yet entered an era of widespread personalized pricing. Rather, sellers are using online and offline pricing practices that fall into three broad categories: (1) exploring the demand curve, (2) steering and differential pricing based on demographics, and (3) behavioral targeting and personalized pricing.

38 cheesetrader November 3, 2015 at 10:57 am

What’s next – a store you can buy music at? Viva the retail revolution!

39 David November 3, 2015 at 11:40 am

All those B. Daltons, Waldenbooks, Crowns, Borders, Brentanos, etc went out of business for good reasons. The stores that have stayed in business have done so for reasons either unrelated or explicitly antithetical to the Amazon business model.

Either this store exists for data acquisition purposes purely…

Or there must be a special category of the Dunning-Kruger effect where smart people are so smart they can’t tell when they are doing something stupid.

40 honkie please November 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm

I used to hang out at a Borders for study time during college, and bought a lot of books there, too. Right now I’m looking at a shelf full of books that I paid $30+ for in 1990s dollars.

If you offer the same business, nice cafe and study space without the gouging on books, I think it’ll be a hit.

41 Jim November 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I suspect this is more about promoting good feelings towards Amazon in Seattle. They are really hated by the NIMBY’s due to their recent growth in employees. Rents have gone up big time and people don’t really see what Amazon brings to Seattle other than rich programmers. Now they get a bookstore back.

42 Silas Barta November 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Didn’t they make a clever ad about exactly this? I remember someone (I think an online marketing firm) had a spot where shoppers were coming to the front desk saying things like,

“Hey, where do I click on this CD to hear a sample?”

“Okay, people who liked this — what other stuff did they like?”

“Where are your helpful reviews on this?”

“Can you tell my friends this is on my wishlist?”

43 Drew B November 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm

I don’t think we should read this as a “book store.” Rather, I think we should think of this as addressing the problems Apple addressed with it’s stores. Apple aimed for two objectives:

1. Create a space where customers could encounter their product in a friendly area Apple controls. Prior to Apple Stores, potential customers could only see Macs on sale in the dusty corners of CompUSA and Best Buy. And these were usually last gen Macs, ignored by sales staff, with desktops cluttered by customers.
2. Create a space to communicate the brand. Jobs specifically aimed for emulating The Gap at its height, even going so far to bring Mickey Drexler, then-CEO of Gap, onto Apple’s board.

Amazon faces similar headwinds.

Every single physical retail environment a customer goes to has stake in Amazon failing. Yet, that’s where customers get to play with their products, which are generally laid out in terrible, badly maintained end caps.

For Amazon to best sell their tablets, readers, and other physical manifestations of their digital storefronts, they need a retail presence where customers can better experience their products. The books themselves? They’re just communicating the Amazon brand.

44 dan1111 November 4, 2015 at 2:28 am

Apple is selling a premium product where brand means everything. Amazon, on the other hand, is just competing with a lot of others to sell the exact same books as everyone else.

45 Prakash November 4, 2015 at 4:29 am

So say we all!

[can’t believe I was the only one to say this]

46 Sam P November 8, 2015 at 6:52 pm

From the beginning, a big disadvantage that Amazon had relative to physical bookstores is immediate gratification. This is particularly important for travelers, who might be getting on a bus/plane/train/ship in a matter of minutes or have no or only evanescent shipping addresses. They’ve tried to combat this in various ways: lower prices, faster shipping, Amazon Locker, electronic books. Having a few physical retail locations is pretty much the final step.

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