If you think Apple is a vertical corporate monolith, wait until you get a load of Amazon's reported plans: The e-tailer turned tablet maker turned publisher is said to be planning a physical store in Seattle with an eye toward building a national chain. And you thought the literati hated Amazon before.
"Sources close to the situation" tell trade blog Good E-Reader Amazon plans to roll out a small, boutique store in Seattle in the next few months as a test of whether physical stores could be profitable. The pilot location will focus on Kindles and accessories. It's not clear if the store will even stock books, but Amazon's publishing imprints have been banned from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, so there would be a rationale for doing so.
Oh, the fury that will ensue if this actually happens. Amazon's December promotion to gather intelligence on neighborhood methants sparked a huge eruption among indy bookstore owners and supporters on Tumblr, as did Amazon's hell warehouse scandal. It's not much loved among publishers, either, despite being their largest retailer. A recent BuinessWeek article quoted industry peers claiming longtime well-liked publishing executive Larry Kirshbaum was a "turncoat" and "one of the most reviled... people in publishing" for going to work at Amazon.
And now the company is becoming even more of an end to end giant, developing, editing, packaging, publishing, distributing, e-distributing, printing, electronically selling, electronically presenting and now perhaps physically selling books. Even Apple doesn't go that vertical, although Amazon remains similar in its frightening willingness to censor controversial content.
On the bright side, a national retail chain would accelerate the inevitable process of Amazon remitting sales tax to local governments. And at least there's one company with real money and a clear future that's considering stepping into the vacuum left by the liquidations of Borders Group. Amazon's carpets will probably be much more tasteful, too.