I'm a writer. Which means I'm part of the rare breed that enjoys the three-block walk to the little bookstore on the corner. I hear the little bell that rings above my head when I walk in and I suddenly feel at home.
My favorite bookstore just closed last month.
For a long time now, people have been questioning the future of physical books. I want to say it started even in the early 2000s, when people realized they could read material at length on the Internet. But certain milestones have catapulted the conversation from skepticism to dubbing the entire industry of the printed word in its "final hour." Newspapers are out the door. The birth of the Kindle and booming eBook space seems to only confirm this future. And now, right alongside the rapid decline of retail stores, bookstores seem to be falling in parallel.
Well, leave it to Amazon to still see a bright future.
This past Thursday, Amazon officially opened its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City. The Manhattan store takes rank among six others across the United States, and does not operate like your average bookstore.
For starters, it is organized based off the same logic a customer uses when shopping online. Every single book is turned to face outward, so that you can shop with your eyes--which only confirms that people do, in fact, judge books by their cover.
Second, right alongside popular categories like Finance, Self-Improvement, and Fiction, are new categories that only make sense in the context of Amazon's behemoth online platform. Categories like, "Books with More Than 10,000 Reviews On Amazon.com," for example. Which essentially means that the metrics we use to determine quality online are now jumping off the page and holding value offline as well.
Similarly, there are other categories like, "Books Rated 4.8 Stars and Above."
And then there's the real deal-sealer wall, where customers can find recommendations based on other books, just like they would when shopping online. On entire walls, customers will find books side by side, with arrows pointing and instructing, "If you liked this, then you'll probably like this."
How's that for an offline experience?
As if that's not enough, the tag under each book provides customers with a real Amazon review, along with the total number of reviews and star rating. How they plan to keep these up to date, I'm not sure, but it's a cool concept nonetheless.
In addition, there's also a whole section devoted to selling the gadgets that many readers would find relevant, such as the Kindle Fire, Amazon Echo, and more.
If this is what the future of bookstores look like, sure, I might miss the little bell above my head that jingles when I walk in, and I might miss climbing deep into disheveled stacks of classics, but this new version is pretty sweet too.