No, Amazon Is Not Planning A Network Of 300-400 Bookstores

Yesterday, a report surfaced in the Wall Street Journal claiming that online retail giant Amazon was planning to launch as many as 400 brick-and-mortar bookstores. The report set off a stream of stories about the news; chatter slamming the idea of a company that’s precipitated the collapse of bookstores building them itself; and even some stock movements for Amazon’s competitors.

Just one problem, though: it turns out that it’s not exactly true.

A source close to Amazon has confirmed to TechCrunch that the company has no plan to open a chain of bookstores. The report was speculation from someone not involved in Amazon Books, the source noted.

And since yesterday, that someone who originally made the comments that spurred the flurry of speculation — Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of shopping mall operator General Growth Properties — has also clarified his statements. A report by CNBC says that his comments were not intended to reflect the company’s plans.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400,” Mr. Mathrani had said to investors on Tuesday, as quoted by the WSJ.

You can see why the statement about Amazon’s plans might have been readily believed: the company back in November made a small inroad into the world of physical books with a storefront in Seattle, one of the many forays that Amazon has made to build bridges between its online presence and the offline shopping world.

Amazon Books, as it is called, stocks between 5,000 and 6,000 titles and is something of an experiment for the company: the idea is that the titles will change frequently based on online shopping patterns, giving it a better advantage over other stories because of the way the layout and selection are calibrated.

Amazon sometimes takes a very slow approach when it comes to new business areas, and that may be the case here, too. It seems there are plans to expand those bookstores to more locations, including Southern California, as Recode reports.

The next step after that will likely depend on how well these early efforts do, and how confident Amazon feels about bucking the trend that it helped set in motion:

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Amazon has declined to comment for this story.