Amazon continues its plans to build a chain of Amazon Books bookstores and Kindle showrooms. Fortune has broken the news that it plans to open a third store in Portland, Oregon, to go with the store in its hometown of Seattle and the second store near UCSD in San Diego. There’s no word on the timeframe of the store’s opening; all Amazon says is that it’s “currently hiring store managers and associates.” So, perhaps a few months?

imageThe location is said to be in the Washington Square Mall on the outskirts of Portland. Job listings such as Assistant Store Manager are listed on Amazon’s jobs site. Beyond that, details are sketchy, so Fortune spends the rest of the article recapping prior Amazon Books-related news, such as the great shopping mall CEO quote furor. And there’s also this gem:

The irony in Amazon’s brick and mortar plans is that the company was founded with the ambitions of putting brick and mortar bookstores out of business. Amazon’s aggressive discounting of books online eventually helped to drive bookstore chain Borders out of business in 2011 and has jeopardized the sales of Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. brick and mortar bookstore chain.

I certainly don’t recall Jeff Bezos ever saying that. I believe Amazon was founded, as most companies are, with the ambitions of making money and growing larger. It has managed to succeed admirably at both of those goals. And if part of that “growing larger” involves coming out with more bookstores, then hey—why not?

As with both Seattle and San Diego, Portland is another metro area where Amazon has a number of warehouses, and offers its 1-hour “Prime Now” delivery service. I’m still crossing fingers that Amazon will bring one to Indianapolis sooner or later.


  1. I’d be interested in knowing more about the Portland location. Amazon’s Seattle store was clearly intended to steal sales away from University Book Store, located only a ten minute walk away and one of the largest university bookstores in the country. The second store “near the UCSD in San Diego” seems to demonstrate a similar motivation.

    If true, then Amazon’s scheme is a nasty one. Large stores such as the University Book Store make their money on popular bestsellers. That enables them to maintain large inventories of more slowly selling books. In the case of UBS, that’s scholarly non-fiction and literary fiction. For that it’s utterly marvelous. In doing so, stores such as UBS are among the few bookstores that compete with Amazon’s large inventory of serious titles. Amazon, need I point out, does not like competition.

    Steal the cream—those popular bestsellers—that support these large, serious bookstores—typically located near college campuses—and Amazon becomes almost the only direct retailer for such books. That gives Amazon enormous leverage over the typically financially strained publishers of such books. Anyone doubt that Amazon will abuse that leverage to increase its profit margin? I didn’t think so.

    The key question is whether this Portland store repeats that now twice-repeated pattern. Is there a large, richly inventoried bookstore nearby? Is this another case where the Amazon store will be draining the financial life blood away from a unique type of competitor? In Bezos’s terminology, is this another case of weakening the gazelles, so they can be destroyed?

    If you live in Portland and know the business context of this new Amazon store, I’d be interested in hearing from you.

    • Bless your heart, but I don’t know whether to sigh at you for being anti-Amazon, for being so ignorant, or for hating college students and wanting to make them pay more for goods.

      Amazon Books in Seattle is located an eight minute _drive_ away from the bookstore you mention, and most of that time is spent on a very busy road. It’s not going to steal foot traffic away from the college bookstore.

      Furthermore, if you’re going to go all FUD on Amazon then you should be getting hysterical over the fifteen pickup locations Amazon has planned on or near college campuses.

      That’s what should have your panties in a twist – assuming, that is, that you don’t want college students to get the best value for their limited amount of funds. And I really don’t see why you would want to take that position.

      • “Amazon Books in Seattle is located an eight minute _drive_ away from the bookstore you mention, and most of that time is spent on a very busy road. It’s not going to steal foot traffic away from the college bookstore.”

        Drive time but foot traffic? Your argument is a bit muddled. Those are two different things. Drive time is for the public. Foot traffic is mostly students and faculty. Besides, the issue of closest is that Amazon intends to draw customers away from UBS to them. It wants people to come to them not UBS. The closeness is to steal them away not to encourage customers to shop at both.

        Yes, it’s a dreadful drive and the parking at both ends can be awful, especially around the Christmas holidays. Both are in far from idea shopping locations. Both have serious traffic issues, partiicularly during rush hour. That said, both get very crowded around Christmas.

        I know the geography. I’ve lived in the U-District. I did graduate study at the University of Washington. If you don’t mind a steep hill, it’s a quite pleasant walk of but a few minutes. For students in the UW dorms, the two are almost equi-distance away. Heck, from some dorm windows, you can probably see the Amazon store. Both stores are also almost the same distance, a half-block, off the same street, 45th.

        Even more important, assume for a moment what I assume, that the Amazon store is intended to gut the popular book business of University Book Store. Where exactly would Amazon locate itself that would be closer than its present location? Where would it go that would put it at a greater advantage. There’s no location. University Villlage is, as the name hints, not only close to the university, it’s directly across a street from the university’s east side. That draws the student foot traffic. Picking NE Seattle’s popular University Village shopping center draws the public.

        Indeed, Amazon has chosen the perfect location to steal business away from the UBS. It’s as close to campus and the student dorms at UBS. And it’s a better location for attracting up-scale consumers, with some of the city’s better neighborhoods to its north and east. The parking at University Village is bad, particularly in the holidays, but it beats the U-District. Parking at UV is free. At UBS you have to buy something to get validated for free parking in their lot.

        I really can understand Amazon fanboys who ascribe virtue to the company. It’s ruthless. It’s nasty. It bullies suppliers. It treats both its warehouse and white collar employees awful. About the only restraint it subjects itself to is legal.

        This is a clever business move. Amazon is targeting one of their few remaining brick-and-mortar competitors for a significant slice of their business, the more serious books that your typical small neighborhood bookstore can’t afford to carry. And the more share of the market for serious books it owns, the more it can bully their publishers. Does Nate really believe Amazon doesn’t do that. Its attempts to do that with the major publishers were the leading news in publishing for months.


        This is interesting:

        Quote: “Furthermore, if you’re going to go all FUD on Amazon then you should be getting hysterical over the fifteen pickup locations Amazon has planned on or near college campuses.”

        Actually, I don’t get hysterical over anything. When I climbed mountains, almost getting killed multiple times barely rippled my emotions. When I worked in a top children’s hospital, I stayed cool and calm during codes. I don’t even argue that what Amazon is doing is illegal. I merely raise the issue that it’s dreadfully bad for publishing, for consumers, and indeed for anyone who cares about books.

        Those pickup locations merely reinforce my point. Amazon intends to skim all the cream it can out of the book market, maximizing its profit and destroying or greatly weakening its competitors. That’s Amazon goal in a host of areas, so why is it surprising that its move into brick-and-mortar stores or campus pickup locations is intended to do just that? Some people lack any ability to connect the dots.
        Thanks to foomf for the description of the locale of the Portland store. Interesting that this is another shopping center where there used to be a major bookstore. That was true in Seattle too. If Powell’s or a branch of it is nearby, that matters immensely. Powells is huge and thus a threat to Amazon’s dominance. Also, keep in mind that Powells is a major player in used books, which is also a market that Amazon has entered in a big way. Here’s a description:

        With over 500 people working for it, Powells isn’t small and I imagine its professed love for books is genuine. They’re not like Bezos, whose mind is a machine and for whom everything is a calculation. Here are the Portland locations:

        Keep in mind again that walkable distances between the two doesn’t mean that Amazon wants people to walk between them. It’s merely an indication that Amazon is locating its stores so close that driving to one or the other is equally easy. Amazon clearly wants people to drive to their store and never visit the other. It not only wants their business and money. It wants to deny that business and money to key competitors. That is the key point I’m making. Amazon never plays well with others, particularly not other book retailers.
        I don’t think I will ever undestand fanboys and their adorations. I respect people who have earned my respect by their kindness and ethical behavior, whether rich or poor. I don’t respect them for merely being big like Amazon or, if rock stars, attracting huge crowds.

        That’s why, when I look at Election 2016, I want to vomit.

        –Mike Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride

        • So your saying that Amazon is putting their stores in high traffic areas where a lot if people are? The nerve of then. Or are you saying that they can’t put their store within walking distance of another book store?

          Mike, you wrote “Amazon clearly wants people to drive to their store and never visit the other. It not only wants their business and money. It wants to deny that business and money to key competitors.”

          Could you name me one business that would prefer that you to go to their competition. Just one.

          Post after post you have complained about Amazon taking away business from other retailers. Either you don’t known much about business or you are the Amazon hater that you sound like, but that’s how business works.

  2. This location is as much Portland as Mountain View is San Francisco.

    It’s in a mall, and I believe it’s going in where there used to be a Barnes and Noble, or possibly Borders.
    It’s not anywhere NEAR a competing bookstore, although there was a Powell’s Books across the freeway and down a half a mile, which might still be there. It’s certainly not walk-able.

    There is also not a college reasonably nearby. Though it IS in decent proximity to a high-tech park, again on the other side of that freeway.

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