Amazon’s sales techniques have no ‘Borders’

In a world with increasing digitization, it’s always noticeable when trends go in the opposite direction.

Recently, Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle. This March, Amazon opened its first Chicago store, bringing the reality close to home: the internet and the real world continue to merge.

(Photo provided)

(Photo provided)

According to Amazon, their “clicks and mortar” strategy of establishing physical stores aims to cater to all types of customers: those who browse online, those who browse in person, and those who browse in person and then purchase online. Amazon makes a sale either way, whether the customers wander in and carry books home or simply buy what they see on their Amazon phone apps. The books that Amazon stocks in-store are selected based on online Amazon reviews, preorders, and Goodreads ratings, and Amazon has plans to tailor their store selection to local demand as well.

This isn’t the first time an initially digital presence took a physical form; I can think of a few noteworthy examples. The classic iPhone game “Angry Birds” has been made into a board game. The “Words with Friends” app also became a physical game, despite the fact that Scrabble is the same thing. There are sunglasses that alter the hue of your surroundings to mimic an Instagram photo filter.

And now Amazon, one of the digital culprits for the demise of bookstores, is becoming a bookstore itself.

It almost seems that these “innovative” transitions from the internet to real life are almost ironic, a joking commentary on the rise of the world wide web.

While I find it a little comical that Amazon is building brick and mortar stores, part of me is also relieved. When bookstores first started disappearing, I remember wondering: is this the end of an era? Would it be difficult to find a cozy local bookshop or even a big business bookstore like Barnes and Noble?

According to shopper reviews, “Amazon Books” does not carry the ambiance of a quaint, nook-like bookstore or the glitzy comfort of a Barnes and Noble. From the photos I’ve seen, the stores seem slightly cramped, dim, and warehouse-y. But I’m still going to visit; a bookstore’s a bookstore.

Maybe’s Amazon’s sudden appearance as a physical place is a sign that no matter what, the world still needs to feel the turning of a page, the weight of a book in its hands. It needs the smell of ink and the quiet liveliness of groups of people reading to themselves. Perhaps it’s a sign that no matter what happens online, bookstores will forever pop up even in the most unlikely forms and places. As long as bookstores continue to be reborn and rebuilt, I’ll be okay.

Or maybe, Amazon’s marketing schemes simply have no “Borders.”

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