Does Amazon Books need coffee?
Amazon Books on Tuesday in New York City opened its 11th location, its third selling coffee.
The coffee space, located in a connecting room adjacent to the book store, is operated by Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
In an interview with RetailWire at the location on 34th Street, just across from the Empire State Building, Jennifer Cast, VP of Amazon Books, said the company also has coffee shops inside its Chicago and Dedham, MA stores. The Chicago store also features Stumptown while Dedham offers Peet’s Coffee, the San Francisco Bay Area specialist that acquired Stumptown in 2015.
Ms. Cast said the decision to add a coffee shop depends in part on the size of the location — some Amazon Book stores are located inside malls that already include nearby coffee shops. But she admits adding coffee shops is an “experiment” as Amazon remains in the learning stage while opening its first brick & mortar stores.
“Coffee and books go together like peanut butter and jelly,” said Ms. Cast. “Our goal is to have very high quality coffee and to see if people enjoy a coffee shop on its own and whether people enjoy having a cup of coffee and browsing a book store.”
Amazon Books will have two more openings in 2017, including one featuring a coffee shop.
Ms. Cast said the stores continue to be well received. Fans are responding particularly well to its themed sections and how Amazon.com’s ratings and reader recommendations are integrated into the store’s aisles.
She said one of the ongoing “misinterpretations” about Amazon Books is that the selections are driven by algorithms. Amazon Books’ curators are “pouring over information” beyond sales, including Amazon.com customer ratings, popularity on Goodreads and their own assessments, to determine selections.
Ms. Cast declined to speculate on how Amazon Books complements Amazon’s other brick & mortar experiments, including AmazonFresh, Amazon Go and just-acquired Whole Foods. She said, “My team and I are solely focused on book stores and delighting our customers in book stores.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should Amazon Books offer coffee at its locations? How do you think Amazon Books complements Amazon’s other pushes into physical retail?