Amazon is heading to the East Coast with its brick-and-mortar expansion, with plans for a Manhattan bookstore, according to the New York Post.
Amazon Books will open in 2018 or 2019 at Hudson Yards, a retail, commercial and residential development by Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group, sources told the Post.
In March Amazon also won a $30 million contract to sell e-books to 1.1 million students in New York City schools, the nation’s largest school district.
Independent bookstores have thrived in the Amazon era in many smaller cities, with new bookstore openings outpacing closings nationwide. But independent booksellers in New York have been felled by rising rents and fierce competition, notably from Amazon itself. From 2000 to 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan decreased 30%, with Barnes & Nobel and the now-bankrupt Borders suffering closings alongside smaller operations.
With these closings, some have wondered why Amazon, after disrupting retail with its pure-play e-commerce operations, would enter the brick-and-mortar market. Amazon’s effort is still in its infancy, with a store in Seattle and others planned for San Diego and Portland, OR. The company also has a healthy college campus bookstore approach, with retail operations and delivery stations around the country that compete with Barnes & Noble’s campus efforts.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in May said that the company would continue its brick-and-mortar expansion, though he didn’t indicate how many stores that would mean.
Many believe that these stores help Amazon provide “touch and feel” opportunities for its Kindle and other devices, and a way to collect even more consumer data. Having brick-and-mortar stores can also help Amazon process returns and rein in some of its mounting shipping costs if placed in strategic locations like New York City.
"If they sell books, awesome,” Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told the Associated Press last year. “Even if they don't sell books, there's a lot to learn about how people discover products, how they shop for products. Does a physical store increase your likelihood to spend with Amazon in general? Does it make you more loyal to Amazon?”