You may recall a recent post on Jonathan Franzen, one of America's most important essayists and novelists, who thinks Amazon is ruining the world. The much-acclaimed author of Freedom and The Corrections is most alarmed by e-books like Amazon's Kindle, which he says are creating a world where instant gratification trumps any sense of permanence and unalterability.
"The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it's pretty good technology. And what's more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It's a bad business model," Franzen said last month at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia.
Well, Jonathan, hate to break it to you, but Amazon, the monolithic online e-tailer, is setting its sights on building a physical store in Seattle and then maybe forging a full-fledged national chain of brick-and-mortar outlets.
According to the trade blog Good E-Reader, Amazon is planning a retail store in Seattle within the next few months. "This project is a test to gauge the market and see if a chain of stores would be profitable. They intend on going with the small boutique route with the main emphasis on books from their growing line of Amazon Exclusives and selling their e-readers and tablets."
The Seattle location (sorry, Jonathan) will focus on Kindles and accessories. No word yet if the store will stock real books, but since Amazon's publishing imprints have been banned from the financially reeling Barnes & Noble stores, why not?
Oh, the fury that will ensue if this actually happens. Amazon's December promotion to gather intelligence on neighborhood merchants sparked a huge eruption among indy bookstore owners and supporters on Tumblr, as did Amazon's hell warehouse scandal. It's not much loved among publishers, either, despite being their largest retailer. A recent BusinessWeek article quoted industry peers claiming longtime well-liked publishing executive Larry Kirshbaum was a "turncoat" and "one of the most reviled... people in publishing" for going to work at Amazon.