Amazon opened its first bookstore in Seattle on Tuesday. Yes, you read that sentence right: an actual bookstore. Essentially Amazon, the epitome of online shopping, has decided to step foot in the non-virtual world. If you are as confused as I am, rest assured we are not the only ones.
On the one hand, I read about Amazon doing this and I smirked a little (a lot). As someone who romanticizes the way books should be read, I was happy to know that Amazon opening an actual bookstore demonstrated that public demand for physical copies of books still exists. People are still clutching books as their favorite character dies, holding them as the ending is everything they imagined it would be, keeping them on their shelves for the days of rereading that are to ensue.
On the other hand, these people have been doing so without Amazon’s help. Local bookstores are usually the top source for those who want to buy physical versions of books. Personally, I know that the feeling of browsing the different books on a shelf and reading bits of that book I have been wanting to buy in a corner of the bookstore is not comparable to a PDF preview of the books, or countless left-hand clicks that mimic my hands actually holding something in my hands. Physical book lovers have been surviving and allowing small businesses to survive. Is Amazon disturbing this chain?
Amazon’s virtual presence over the years has put a lot of companies out of business, and now its physical presence might do the same. Amazon doing this does irk me, but at the same time, it is a natural progression for this business. Like any visceral human reaction, Amazon thinks of its survival first and it realizes that this is the next step it has to take. Our society might dislike it, but to chastise Amazon for not having a heart while doing business is futile.
I cannot deny that in today’s age, we are growing more aware of the fact that businesses should be more considerate of the social issues that involve the world. Some of those issues are being taken into consideration, but competition is the simplest drive in the business world. To expect businesses to be sympathetic in this arena is unreasonable.
What can we do for now? A lot of people have chosen to continue buying books from their staple bookstore. Amazon might lure a few with its cheaper prices and pure curiosity, but if this is a fight between economics and customer loyalty, only time will tell who will survive. For now, I am going to stare at the books on my shelf and wait for winter break when I can finally go to my local bookstore and add more books to this collection (and read them with no school work looming over me).