Amazon opens a real, live bookstore. It all comes full circle.

There’s nothing quite like an actual bookstore. The new book smell alone: it’s something that cannot be captured in any sprayable fragrance. Then again, there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing a package full of new books in front of your door, delivered via that magical world we call the Internet. So, can a traditional bookstore compete when online retailers like Amazon ship out boxes and boxes and boxes of books every single day?

Well, it seems that the answer to this question is one that we couldn’t have predicted. It turns out that Amazon will be opening – today, in fact – its very own brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle’s University Village. They will be using online data to stock the shop with 5,000 to 6,000 titles that are less likely to sit on shelves and gather the dust of time.

While this bookstore formula may sound clinical, Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast told the Seattle Times, “It’s data with heart. We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.”

In addition to selling best-sellers at their pristine new locale, Amazon will also be including books that receive all five stars from their customers. In fact, the bookstore will have printed customer reviews and ratings included below each book on the shelf – which adds a nice bit of humanity to their data-driven venture.

When it comes to presentation, Amazon Books will be changing the game. Rather than having a book’s spine showing for consumers to peruse, all books will have their cover facing outward. This will leave less space on shelves for more books, but it also means that these publications will have room to breathe as they show off the artwork on their covers.

“We realized that we felt sorry for the books that were spine out,” explained Cast.

As for their staff, Amazon hired 15 new employees after reaching out to local stores’ sales staff. And they ended up with some knowledgeable bibliophiles on their team, including retail clerks, several librarians, and an Amazon receptionist whose favorite hobby is reading.  

Additionally, if you’ve always wanted to buy one of Amazon’s many devices (Kindle, anyone?), but wanted to be able to test it out first, we have good news! While the store will not serve as a location where you can pick up your online orders, it will act as a place where you can play with Kindles, the Fire tablets, Fire TV, and the Echo.

“We’re completely focused on this bookstore,” Cast said. “We hope this is not our only one. But we’ll see.”

However, that’s not all! It seems that this isn’t the only unexpected news Amazon has to reveal this week. The company will also be offering employees new benefits. Mothers will now be getting 20 weeks of maternity leave, while fathers will get up to 6 weeks of paternity leave. The online retailer will be providing new parents with the ability to share leave with a spouse who doesn’t work for Amazon and a flexible return-to-work policy.

Between the traditional bookstore news and the improved benefits program for its workers, we are both excited and intrigued to see what Amazon’s next move will be. (Though, one thing’s for sure: we hope it involves more books!)

[Image via iStock]

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