After months of speculation, Amazon has finally brought its Amazon bookstore concept to Massachusetts (one of only six locations in the U.S.) at Dedham’s trendy shopping haven, Legacy Place. Amazon Books (located next to Whole Foods in the plaza) promised to re-revolutionize the book buying experience, much as it has with their dot com site, and from the looks of it, they’re making good on that pledge. As I had the opportunity to venture inside on opening day, it looks, at first glance, much like any modern streamlined bookstore. However, there are several variables that make this establishment stand out. To begin, each and every title on the shelves are displayed face out—no need to risk a neck injury by tilting sideways to read through dozens of spines. Just as we view book covers face out on their website, Amazon Books takes away the hassle of sifting through a bevy of spine-out titles and allows the customer to easily find popular titles with ease and efficiency.
What should be noted is that Amazon Books doesn’t stock just any titles; they are carefully chosen through a variety of methods, particularly by popularity and sales on their Amazon site. Every book in stock has received a 4 star rating or higher—either on Amazon OR Goodreads. In front of each title there’s a review card with a customer review, the star rating and the amount of reviews that book has gotten (as of recent.)
Another noticeable difference between here and the other bookstore chains is that there are no prices listed. Much like Amazon ‘s website, prices fluctuate from day to day, so whatever the price of the book is on the dot com site, it’s that price in store. There are simple to use price scanners in almost every aisle. I grabbed a copy of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and gave it a scan. Today it’s $13.95 and $10.26 if I’m a Prime member.
Staff can easily track down a specific title on the spot with their handheld scanning devices. They can also tell you right away if they don’t carry it in store. No need to walk all the way over to the computer terminal found at some of the other large book chains. It should also be noted that each location throughout the U.S. stocks its inventory based on what’s trending in sales in that region. So, what might be available in Seattle might not be stocked in San Diego or (Dedham) Massachusetts.
It wouldn’t be a proper bookstore without a coffee bar; this particular location serves Peet’s Coffee (the only one out of the current six locations) and has a comfortable and relaxed seating area. There are plenty of friendly and helpful staff members to speak with and they’ll gladly help you with any questions. The sales girl, Tabitha, whom I spoke with today was extremely helpful and informative. She gave me the rundown of the store and its many highlights, which I’ve shared with you here. I love it for its blatant simplicity and efficiency. While I’m happy that stores such as Barnes & Noble have weathered the storm over the years, there’s no denying that shopping there gets to be a bit overwhelming. Sifting through a deluge of books becomes tiresome after about fifteen minutes. This proposed concept is far more appealing and I hope it’s a trend that will continually rise. While I’m sure that Barnes & Noble isn’t looking over its shoulder in fear just yet, I’m certain that in time this book chain will set set the standard yet again, and Barnes & Noble will make the necesary changes to its own business model. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that physical books are regaining popularity and there are no shortage of places to get them.