According to GoodEReader, Amazon is planning to open a retail store in Seattle this year where they will sell Amazon-exclusive books and, more importantly, Kindles of all kinds. While this looks to be more of a pop-up retail presence than a fully-fledged store, if I were in publishing I’d be circling the wagons right now.
To be fair, Amazon’s own publishing offerings are pretty wonky so far. There haven’t been many runaway successes coming out of the house although Seth Godin and Tim Ferris will soon be bringing their own brand of publishing success and there are some interesting cross-cultural titles coming out. But that’s not why publishing has to worry.
The Kindle was Amazon incarnate, a way for Amazon to bring its online presence into the real world. A physical Kindle store – one that exists in a mall or popular area, even for a short period – is like the third coming. It’s basically a chance for Amazon to grab every else they have missed during the initial run up in Kindle popularity. We’re talking older folks, luddites, grumps, and folks who claim that “reading it in paper” is better. To have them walk up to a display of working Kindles, newly minted and displaying the latest Stephen King book, is the only way Amazon will convince them that going digital is the only way to go.
This will also encourage the movement from the agent-publisher-distributor model of book publishing into a direct to consumer model that Amazon will spearhead. By showing potential authors that they can get their books bound in handsome Kindle editions, they’ll be more likely to go that route instead of pounding fruitlessly against the gates of big publishing. It’s obviously a no-brainer to many of us, but old paradigms die hard.
As I said before, the Fire is Amazon’s Trojan Horse. However, rather than the wary hold-outs bringing in Amazon’s market by buying the fire, Amazon will bring the Trojans to their own branded stores.
The store will appear in Settle in the next few months and presumably be the first of a nation-wide roll-out. I suspect it will be a bit of a loss for Amazon but hopefully it will convert the last hold-outs to the benefits of ereading.