The newest brick-and-mortar Amazon Books shop opened today in New York City. The shop is located in the mall at Columbus Circle, where there used to be a Borders bookstore—the big box chain that closed in 2011, partly because of competition from Amazon.
This is Amazon’s first IRL outpost in New York, and its seventh bookstore across the country. Six more stores are planned, including another Manhattan storefront on West 34th Street near Fifth Avenue that should open this summer.
Like all of the bookstores, the new shop is an extension of Amazon’s digital presence. In fact, the store doesn’t even accept cash, and Amazon Prime members can make purchases through the app. In-store prices on the roughly 3,000 books match those on the website for members, while non-Primers will pay list price. Since physical stores can only hold a fraction of the 1.2 million books Amazon sells online, books must meet certain criteria: a rating of 4 stars or higher, qualify as a bestseller, come from a popular author, or have huge pre-sale numbers.
Even the organization of the stores calls back to the site. Books are grouped by categories like “Books with more than 10,000 reviews on Amazon.com,” and “Page Turners: Kindle readers finish in three days or less.” There are also displays pointing readers to books they might light if they enjoyed another title, and each book label indicates its Amazon rating.
While the store pretty much looks like a typical mall bookstore, here’s one thing you won’t find anywhere else: Every book is forward-facing, which was a design decision meant to encourage browsing. If shelved the traditional way, with spines out, Amazon could have fit nearly double the number of books, but quantity is not a concern.
The store is mostly books, but about 20 percent of the space is dedicated to Amazon devices, including Kindles and smart home systems, as well as other home gadgets.
Amazon Books is located on the third floor of the Shops at Columbus Circle, 10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10023.