Rumor Has It: Will Amazon Be Opening Brick And Mortar Stores?

Word on the street is that the Internet giant Amazon is going … concrete. That’s right, the retail company that got us all used to shopping online will possibly be moving “off-line.”

Amazon is reportedly going to open a boutique-like bookstore in Seattle where they are based, says Good E-Reader blog. But don’t expect this to be a bookstore a la Barnes & Noble or the ghost of Borders past. Instead this will be a smaller, “boutique” buying experience. The new store is expected stock all of the Amazon e-readers, device accessories and the books released from Amazon’s exclusive publishing lines such as Montelake Romance, Thomas & Mercer and 47North.

We love the idea of consumers testing out Kindle models before they buy, and being able meander through the physical aisles of an Amazon store. However, we are wondering what it will mean for the Amazon buying experience. Part of what has made the company so successful is that costs are kept low due to the absence of expensive retail stores.

And why is the historically Internet-based company working on this move? We suspect that it is an attempt to further expand the company’s reach. On the fiscal front, there was a drop in quarterly profits for Amazon according to Bloomberg News, which reported that an analyst suggested this dip in profits was most likely the result of manufacturing costs of the Kindle Fire. Additionally, the fact that bookstore chains including Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million and others have refused to stock Amazon’s imprints probably is also a factor in the decision.

Given these issues, it makes sense for Amazon to try opening a physical store, but we still have several questions about this new venture. We wonder what type of taxes will apply as Amazon has been at the center of several taxation debates in the past decade. Amazon is staunchly anti-online sales tax. And has been able to avoid dealing with regional sales taxes for years and has just recently made deals with four states that will require that consumers living there pay sales taxes on Amazon purchases, according to the HuffPost Business. Branching out into physical stores will undoubtedly have an effect on the way that their current online business is taxed.

We are also looking forward to hearing more about this upcoming store, from the layout to the actual products that they will stock. But for the moment, we’re cautiously optimistic about this new venture. RT’s Morgan says, "When I imagine an Amazon store, I picture something very Apple-esque with plenty of helpful salespeople and lots of devices strewn about. If I could get all of this along with shelves of great books, then I say sign me up!"

All eyes will be on this first Amazon traditional bookstore, if it indeed opens to the public later this year. Considering the fact that Amazon has been a major factor in physical book stores closing all over the nation, it will be interesting to see if the company can make a go of opening a brick and mortar retail space.

Would you want to visit Amazon’s brick and mortar bookstore? Let us know in the comments below! And for more publishing industry news, click here.