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Is Amazon Planning to Open a Physical Book Store in Seattle?

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“I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling."

                                                     - Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angels Game

The smell of books is one of the best fragrances ever and, if rumors are to be believed, Amazon.com (AMZN - Free Report) might be opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. (The company has a history of trying out new ventures at its home front, the latest being Amazon Flex crowdsourced package delivery network.)

The Rumor

Shelf Awareness, a bookseller newsletter, published a post with some intriguing hints about a physical store soon to be opened by the online giant in Seattle’s University Village.

Companies like Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Verizon (VZ - Free Report) also have outlets in the high-end shopping complex.

The site claimed that the Jeff Bezos-led company has contacted local booksellers around Seattle for job openings with “very restrictive nondisclosure agreements."

Quoting an anonymous source from University Village, the site stated that the shopping center’s management “has been unusually secretive about the new tenant.”

Shelf Awareness reports that permit filings list the occupant as “Ann Bookstore” with thefirst permit for the construction issued on Aug 4, 2015.

Meanwhile, a GeekWire reporter who visited the site claims that boxes of books and bookshelves are being installed.

A planning document discovered by the site lists the owner as “Project Anne.” However, no such business has been registered for a license in Washington state or Seattle.

Amazon has not commented on the rumor yet.

Reaction of Other Seattle Book Stores

Amazon does have the reputation for killing off small booksellers. However, according to Shelf Awareness, this is not the case this time.

Although rumors have been making the rounds for years in Seattle’s bookselling community that Amazon might open a physical store, these are the most concrete.

Third PlaceBooks has its main store just a mile and a half away from the rumored Amazon store. It operates two bookstores and another one is scheduled to be opened next year.

According to managing partner of Third Place Books, Robert Sindelar, “People say they’re going to be selling what we’re selling, so it’s going to eat into our business. But my core customer base isn’t supporting us because they can’t find books someplace else. People come here for the experience."

Going Ahead

There is a possibility that Amazon, like the Apple and Microsoft stores at the shopping complex, might use the rumored outlet as a display room for Kindle and Fire devices.

The Seattle-based giant has tried physical retail stores before (pop-up locations in major malls, college campuses, kiosks and Amazon Locker delivery locations).

However, bookstores could mean that Amazon Publishing will be available in at least one store. As for the existing competition, not all books have a happy ending, do they?

Amazon has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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