Amazon Books in Washington DC is the latest location to open. Since there are only 15 of these brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstores, I’m assuming a lot of people haven’t had a chance to visit one. So, I took a field trip to take you inside. Plus, I’ll admit, I was curious to see what it was all about.
Before I even parked the car, I was disappointed.
It wasn’t Amazon’s fault. It’s was me. It was my over-active imagination.
I was thrilled about this field trip. I was thinking Amazon. Tech giant. High-tech experience. I was expecting some Apple-esque glass building with Alexa-type features talking to me and moving walkways whisking me around.
I was in a rush to get there, like Excuse me sir. Lady, out of the way. I’m headed to the bookstore of the future.
That’s a large part of what stoked my anticipation because Georgetown is a historic neighborhood, and I was wondering how this high-tech entity would fit in.
The answer is all too well.
Amazon Books in DC lives in a typical brick building wedged between a Nike store and Thunder, a rock-and-roll theme burger joint.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with tables of books. One table advertised titles popular on Amazon.com. Another advertised newly released hardcover fiction. Dead ahead, was a display of kitchen gadgets and accessories.
All books in the store are front-facing so you can see the cover, which is nice. But that’s possible because there is a limited, specially curated selection.
Amazon Books carries new releases, books that are popular on Amazon.com with at least a four-star rating, and titles deemed location-appropriate. So, you may find books in the Seattle, WA store, for example, that aren’t considered right for the Washington DC market.
A Bit of Info
All of the books have information cards that provide a brief review from some unknown person, the Amazon.com rating, and the number of Amazon.com reviews the book has. Plus, there’s a barcode you can scan to find more information about the book.
Amazon Books is set up like a typical bookstore. The interior design includes basic, run-of-the-mill retail elements, like light wood floors and book cases. The titles are categorized in common categories, such as history, arts and crafts, parenting, and entertainment.
It’s certainly not the high-tech experience I’d dreamed of, but it’s sensible, I suppose.
May They Suggest…
There’s a section that makes reading suggestions based on books you may have read. If not, and you considered buying one, you may be enticed to buy the other.
There’s a small 2-cabinet “Reading and Writing” section, which contains a lot of the classic titles such as Stephen King’s On Writing , Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.
For The Kids
The children’s section has an inviting, brightly colored activity area where kids can read, color and use Amazon Fire tablets. I think if I were a kid, I’d be all about it. At least for a little while.
Try E-books on Kindle
If you’ve never experienced a Kindle, you can use one in the store to get a taste of books you may be interested in buying. And to determine if you’re going to enjoy reading on-screen.
This display was on a shelf with books.
There’s a nice-sized magazine section. You’ll find most of the mainstream, popular titles. As for more obscure and niche magazines, this may not be your place.
Electrical and Electronics
The electronics and electrical section consumes nearly a third of the first floor, based on my rough estimation. It includes items ranging from Kindles to smart home gadgets.
Throughout the store, you can find a range of general merchandise ranging from planners and colored pens to innovative items, such as the SubPac, a wearable audio system and Prynt Pocket, an instant photo printer.
At Amazon Books, price checkers will be your friend because, apart from the list price that is printed on some books, I didn’t see price tags on books or most merchandise.
Here’s how Amazon Book’s pricing system works:
I was told the DC store is currently the only one that has two stories. Downstairs, there’s a cafe with a decentbeverage menu. They also sell soda, sparkling water, chips, superfood cereal cups, veggie and cheese boxes, and other items that you would find in a normal cafe.
But the seating area is very small. It’s a single line of tables that run along the stairs. I forgot to count, but thinking back, I would say it could comfortably seat maybe 15 people.
Take A Load Off
There’s another lounging/congregating area downstairs designed somewhat like wooden bleachers. Some people seem to find it appealing.
There aren’t any sit-down areas upstairs.
My Two Cents
For what I expected from Amazon, I was extremely underwhelmed. For what I expect from a bookstore in general, I was still underwhelmed. I didn’t even see a section with journals.
Amazon Books feels like a novelty shop more than a serious bookstore.
If I lived in the neighborhood, I would definitely pop into Amazon Books from time to time to check out what was on the shelves or grab some magazines.
Even living elsewhere, if I was in the area, at a non-peak time, and I thought there was a good chance the store had a book I needed, I would go in for it.
But, I wouldn’t drive out of my way to shop at Amazon’s bookstore. And I wouldn’t get tangled in Georgetown’s traffic or fight the crowds that swarm the streets during peak times just to go the Amazon bookstore.
And, Amazon Books is not a place I would post up and work if I had another option.
If you have visited Amazon Books in Washington DC or elsewhere and you want to add to the conversation, do your thing in the comments section.