Amazon is set to open its first physical store in the world, right in the heart of the biggest city of the most consumer-centric country on the planet. It’ll debut in time to capitalize on the holiday season. It is a significant moment on so many levels.
First, this could trigger increased growth for Amazon. Success in NYC could mean replication across the country or world. It will begin to redefine what Amazon is, as it enters the brick and mortar world.
Second, will this be duplicated by other successful online-only brands?
Third, will this store hurt Barnes & Noble or will there be little or no shelf space for books at Amazon’s store? Will they hold book signings and book-related events?
Fourth, will it threaten all other stores? Would you go to shop elsewhere if Amazon is right in front of you?
Fifth, does this further increase the Walmartization of America, by having a giant continue to expand and dominate?
Sixth, will Amazon be under more pressure to perform should the store fail? It has no experience in physical retail. Digitized customer service is one thing, but dealing with theft, employees, crowd control, returns, etc. is a whole other animal.
Maybe Amazon is setting itself up in New York City to intimidate book publishers, since the major ones are all in the city. Maybe Amazon will open many stores in NY or subspecialize and open bookstores. Who knows?
But a physical presence also gives residence to protesters. Authors who want to protest Amazon can now picket outside a very visible space. Workers displaced by Amazon’s unfair practices will have a physical location to now vent. I’m not saying that civil unrest will take the store over but it will now invite a response that until now only took place quietly online.
Perhaps Amazon will take over the Thanksgiving Day parade, displacing Macy’s. After all, who needs a department store when the world’s biggest online store now has a physical location? Maybe Amazon can launch its drones to advertise the store above Central Park or The Empire State Building.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Amazon is a danger to us all in ways we don’t fully understand. Any company that gets too big endangers its competitors, workers and industries. Book publishing is quite vulnerable to what Amazon does, but any company that is willing to lose money in order to “win” endangers everyone.
I’m sure the grand opening for Amazon will be very successful and generate a lot of buzz. Perhaps there can be a silver lining in this but until proven otherwise, beware of the store that sells everything. In the end, we may be left with nothing.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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