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Bookstore of the future has arrived

I had written about an aspirational bookstore idea almost 2.5 years ago - I am glad that the idea is taking root and no other thanthe big daddy of e-commerce Amazon has come up with physical bookstores which encompass some of the ideas I proposed in my original piece. 

Here are some news items along with excerpts on this. 

Amazon officially opened its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City. 
Every single book is turned to face outward, so that you can shop with your eyes--which only confirms that people do, in fact, judge books by their cover
... customers can find recommendations based on other books, just like they would when shopping online. On entire walls, customers will find books side by side, with arrows pointing and instructing, "If you liked this, then you'll probably like this."
.. the tag under each book provides customers with a real Amazon review, along with the total number of reviews and star rating
Amazon's bookstores look ordinary at first glance. But by pulling out a mobile phone with the Amazon app, shoppers can use visual search technology to identify books and objects around them. The search reveals reviews, shipping options and price.

Ecommerce giant Amazon has opened its first physical bookstore in New York City, in the Columbus Circle shopping mall which once housed a now-defunct Borders. Like the Amazon Go store which opened late last year, this is a cashless business; customers can pay via membership on the Amazon app.
The store itself is smaller than your average bookshop; 4,000 square feet compared to the average 25,000 occupied by Barnes & Noble. This is because the company is relying on data to hone their inventory; with the exception of new releases and bestsellers, the store will only stock books with a ranking of four stars or higher on the site.

But there are those who juxtapose Amazon's model with the good-old-indie bookstore model and find that the latter still has a different charm!

... the new Amazon stores are a study in contrasts with mom-and-pop shops. The Amazon store in Chicago, for example, feels more like a Best Buy than a neighborhood bookstore. It’s transactional, rather than connective. Efficient, rather than cozy. It’s a great place to come and grab the latest bestseller, but not a place where you’d go to lose yourself.
It’s those contrasting reasons, that the indies are growing and will continue to do so. They’re comfortable hangouts away from home, welcoming spots where people can grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, meeting grounds they can read or talk with others about what’s happening in the world, all while discovering a new book or author that the owner and staff believe in.

This was the main thought in my piece penned 2.5 years ago, and I still continue to be optimistic about the Bookstore of the future. And I am glad, there are people doing this:

BookBar, a bookstore that also has a café with a robust wine and craft beer list... the combination has helped draw in a sizable audience: on any given day, three to five book clubs hold meetings in her shop ... upstairs from BookBar is BookBed, a literary-themed one-bedroom apartment that has helped attract high-caliber authors for readings and events.  
Upshur Street Books hosts a series of events inside and outside the shop, ranging from readings and dinners to singalongs and historic neighborhood tours. And every Friday and Saturday, the bartender at Petworth Citizen creates a series of literary cocktails dedicated to a particular author  
Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh, North Carolina [is] a space that’s home to a brewery, dim sum restaurant, flower shop and, yes, bookstore! 
Read It & Eat has a kitchen and regularly hosts authors, cooking classes, wine tastings and even the occasional pop-up dinner. 
Story & Song, in Amelia Island, Florida [is a] two-story shop will also have an art gallery and performance space, along with a café that sells beer, wine, coffee, and food.

And to cap it all - there are numerous other indepdendent bookstores also trying out various ideas to sustain and evolve in this Amazonian Jungle (pun intended!)
.. the small kiosk model works for selling books... the core idea of selling books via kiosks is a proven guerilla tactic. The future of book retailing should not rest on hopes that wine bars and fancy food will save the industry. A guerilla approach to book retailing using kiosks makes this expansion affordable and manageable.
Physical libraries and bookstores can still be relevant in a digital society in many ways. They can be community centers where people meet to discuss, create and listen to authors, experiences that cannot be taken online.
For the economic model, there could be revenue share based on location, e.g. if a customer decides to buy an ebook when he is inside a bookstore or library, the device would know this due to GPS and location awareness and therefore the publisher would share revenue the same way as with physical books. I believe that the experience tied to the physical space and the people who meet there is much stronger that we think.

One of the most convivial, thoughtfully designed spaces in the world is undoubtedly the Tsutaya bookstore in the high-end Daikanyama neighborhood of Tokyo. The store is a series of large, connected bookstores, ample outdoor space, and a cozy bar and lounge surrounded by first edition books, beautiful chairs, and perfect lighting. People can be seen chatting with one another.
The communal space is the perfect antidote to the maelstrom churning over technology these days, one that is leading to a growing backlash over concerns about privacy.
...the brand is now helping real estate developers design the communal areas of residential complexes.
When we consider what the shared space is like in even the sharpest residential developments around the world, most fall flat. People just walk through them en route to their apartments. And no matter how many beautiful Eames chairs are or pseudo lounge areas, they seem dull and lacking life. When you add the context of a bookstore style environment, where people can browse, read, and interact with other building residents, it makes a ton of sense.


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