Amazon just opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore - here's what it's like inside

amazon brick and mortar bookstore

Elaine Thompson/AP

There's one thing that sets Amazon Books apart from regular bookstores.

How's this for irony? Online retail-giant Amazon - possibly the biggest threat facing bookstores across America - opened a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle, Washington, this week. It's the company's first physical store since founder and CEO Jeff Bezos launched the company in his garage 21 years ago.

Amazon Books, housed in a former Blue C Sushi location, contains upwards of 5,000 books, including best-sellers, Amazon.com customer favorites, and titles hand-picked by employees, including Bezos himself. The company will also reference its treasure trove of data to figure out what's worth keeping on the shelves.

Amazon gets a leg up on traditional bookstores because the company orders its stock in such massive quantities, according to New Republic's Dustin Kurtz. By demanding big margins from publishers, the company can throw its money at things other than inventory, such as rent, better wages for employees, and discounts for customers.

 These photos from Amazon Book's opening day might make you think twice about using your virtual shopping cart.

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Amazon Books marks the entrance to University Village, a luxury outdoor shopping mall in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon Books marks the entrance to University Village, a luxury outdoor shopping mall in Seattle, Washington.

Doors opened at 9:30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday morning.

Doors opened at 9:30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday morning.

A line ran out the door for hours.

A line ran out the door for hours.

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At first glance, Amazon Books seems like any ordinary bookstore.

At first glance, Amazon Books seems like any ordinary bookstore.

But upon closer inspection, some things are off. The books face outwards, rather than being stacked so just the spine peeps out.

But upon closer inspection, some things are off. The books face outwards, rather than being stacked so just the spine peeps out.

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New Republic's Dustin Kurtz suggests this layout is meant to mimic how books appear on Amazon.com.

New Republic's Dustin Kurtz suggests this layout is meant to mimic how books appear on Amazon.com.

Source: New Republic

Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, says the company wanted to better showcase authors' work. "We realized that we felt sorry for the books that were spine out," Cast told The Seattle Times.

Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, says the company wanted to better showcase authors' work. "We realized that we felt sorry for the books that were spine out," Cast told The Seattle Times.

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Source: The Seattle Times

Small placards give a book's average star rating along with short reviews, credited to Amazon account screen names.

Small placards give a book's average star rating along with short reviews, credited to Amazon account screen names.

Even Jeff Bezos gets in on the action. "A page-turner written by an award-winning novelist, who happens to be my wife," he says of "Traps" by MacKenzie Bezos.

Even Jeff Bezos gets in on the action. "A page-turner written by an award-winning novelist, who happens to be my wife," he says of "Traps" by MacKenzie Bezos.

Customers can use the Amazon Shopping app on their phones to scan the placard's bar code, revealing price and other information about the book.

Customers can use the Amazon Shopping app on their phones to scan the placard's bar code, revealing price and other information about the book.

Prices in store match prices online. According to New Republic, the books sell for up to 30% cheaper than what competing bookstores can offer.

Prices in store match prices online. According to New Republic, the books sell for up to 30% cheaper than what competing bookstores can offer.

Source: New Republic

Amazon digs through its treasure trove of data in order to figure out what titles are most likely to fly off shelves in Seattle.

Amazon digs through its treasure trove of data in order to figure out what titles are most likely to fly off shelves in Seattle.

Categories of books include highest rated and "most wished-for" by Amazon.com customers.

Categories of books include highest rated and "most wished-for" by Amazon.com customers.

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Source: The Seattle Times

It's data with heart," Cast tells The Seattle Times. "We're taking the data we have and we're creating physical places with it.

It's data with heart," Cast tells The Seattle Times. "We're taking the data we have and we're creating physical places with it.

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Source: The Seattle Times

Still, it's clear Amazon Books has strong ties to digital.

Still, it's clear Amazon Books has strong ties to digital.

Employees are on hand to demo Amazon's Fire tablet. There are outlets galore.

Employees are on hand to demo Amazon's Fire tablet. There are outlets galore.

To see a book's cost, you have to carry it to a price-checking station or an Amazon employee with a scanner in hand.

To see a book's cost, you have to carry it to a price-checking station or an Amazon employee with a scanner in hand.

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Some customers are complaining about the extra steps to find out a book's price. It's as if Amazon is forcing you to embrace tech.

Some customers are complaining about the extra steps to find out a book's price. It's as if Amazon is forcing you to embrace tech.

Source: Quartz

Of course, customers also check out using a tablet, though it's unclear from photos whether it's an Amazon Fire.

Of course, customers also check out using a tablet, though it's unclear from photos whether it's an Amazon Fire.

Cast hints there may be more Amazon Books stores in the future, saying, "We hope this is not our only one."

Cast hints there may be more Amazon Books stores in the future, saying, "We hope this is not our only one."

Source: The Seattle Times

Amazon Books looks to give indie bookstores a run for their money — again.

Amazon Books looks to give indie bookstores a run for their money — again.

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