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In this episode, we talk about Amazon’s brick and mortar bookstores, the future of paper books, and how they affect you as an author.


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Background: Apple Store vs Best Buy

  • Best Buy Makes $804 per square foot
  • Apple Store Makes $5,506 per square foot
  • The average Apple Store makes 3x the average Best Buy despite being much smaller.
  • The Amazon Book Store is to B&N what Apple Stores are to Best Buy.
  • For some comparison B&N only makes $180 per square foot.


How Amazon bookstores are different:

  • A bit bigger than an airport bookstore.
  • Packed with people. Same number of people in a B&N but with a tiny fraction of the space.
  • 100% focus on book discovery.
    1. Books face out.
    2. Reviews facing out
    3. If you like x you will love y
  • Not a 3rd place. No coffee shop, no chairs.
  • Lots of books based off of popular blogs.
  • The store is primarily for Prime members. (Top 50% of households)
  • Barcode scanners for prices
  • Low Selection… but the right selection.
  • Small enough where we walked through every section.


The whole store is built around machine learning

The books on the shelves are selected by algorithm.

  1. No bargain bin out front.
  2. Each store has its own data for its own neighborhood.

Amazon knows a lot about you:

  • What books you read and which books you finish on your kindle
  • What movies you watch.
  • What products you buy
  • Where you live.
  • What products your neighbors buy (birds of a feather flock together)
  • What websites you visit.
  • Your GoodReads reviews and books on GoodReads shelves

The Amazon store tracks all of your behavior in store.

  1. Every time you scan for a price you are giving data to Amazon.
  2. Wifi blocking paint?

How Machines Learn

What this means for authors:

  • Amazon Stores are focused on the short head (for that area)
    1. Dungeons and Dragons guidebook facing the door on the way in.
  • Bad news for indies
  • Bad news for midlist authors. Less total selection means mid-list books will get squeezed.
  • Harder to do book signings.
  • How your book performs on Amazon will drive book sales. To get into a specific bookstore, focus on regions.
  • B&N’s days are numbered.
  • Good for indie bookstores. How do you compete with a computer? Be superhuman.

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