Amazon has opened its first physical store, CNN reports. “Amazon has experimented with physical locations before, placing lockers in stores across the country,” the piece makes clear, but this “pickup and drop-off location on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana” seems to be part of a strategy to open physical retail locations around the country. (This Bloomberg report says Amazon “has discussed acquiring some RadioShack Corp. locations after the electronics chain files for bankruptcy…”)
The move puts Barnes and Noble’s college bookstore business on the defensive. Less than a year ago, the bookseller, which is reportedly the second largest operator of college bookstores, announced a plan to expand its presence on campuses. This after more than two years of challenges to Barnes and Noble’s core business.
In December 2014, the bookstore bought Microsoft out of its stake in the Nook amidst news the e-reader’s value to business had halved. In January 2013, Publishers Weekly reported that Barnes and Noble had chosen to reduce orders of Simon and Schuster titles in alleged retaliation for “not adequately supporting them”, presumably, in their standoff with Amazon which has steadily been eroding their market share to become the primary destination to buy books. Six months later, the company’s then CEO resigned. Throughout, the bookstore has announced store closings even as sales and foot traffic decline.
The bruising news notwithstanding, the embattled bookseller has had a few wins. They refused to carry print books published by Amazon, forcing the nation’s largest e-tailer to focus their print business in Europe. They have a new CEO, Michael Huseby, and they’re still standing. (Can’t say the same for Borders.)