I visited the Amazon Store today, its first permanent bricks-and-mortar rollout. The store falls under the purview of a former Amazon co-worker from back in the day who I admired very much. It's really a lovely place. It seems to have captured a lot of the charm of what Barnes & Noble used to be like, before they lost their way, with a very strong whiff of Seattle and a sense of appreciation of the book as a form. That, even with Kindles, Fires, an Echo, and much more centrally located and throughout the store. This is a book bookstore that happens to have some electronic gear and electronic aids.
Prices are omitted almost everywhere. I spotted a handful on electronics. Books have no prices on the shelf tags. There are omnipresent Kindles to look up the price, but it's odd to my eye that even though the books are heavily discounted off list, one has to look at the book to find the list price and then ask or look up the retail price in the store. It's inconvenient, but it bypasses having SKU (stock-keeping unit) tags on the books. (Having used Amazon for fulfillment of a book I published, they insist on every book being tagged, even though books have UPC codes on them.)
I couldn't put my finger on what it was about the store that seemed off until after I left. It was this:
The entire store feels like the front part of a bookstore. There is no back crammed with spine-out books and remainders and weird stuff—and even used books in various conditions.
The back of the bookstore is the Amazon ecommerce operation. Amazon is self-showrooming.