It's finally happening and it is NOT a package pickup/return location. It really is for books (and some electronics). The hook appears to be: all books displayed cover out.
"“We realized that we felt sorry for the books that were spine out,” Cast said."
Cast is Jennifer Cast, who is a wonderful person and very, very smart. She was at Amazon while I was there, and I really liked her a lot. Cast is also the person who reached out to the Bezos for marriage equality support:
Bezos has always said he loved physical bookstores, and in conversations I had with him and gleaning from his ongoing remarks to the press over the years, I know that we shared a particular favorite thing about physical bookstores: we loved the display tables in the front where books got extra attention. The review cards are nice, too, of course, but there is something about being at a table covered in books, with those amazingly designed covers laid out to best advantage.
All that said, I really never believed Amazon would open a physical bookstore. I am surprised and weirdly pleased to be wrong. I, personally, loathe the physicality of paper books, but I also recognize that part of that may well be attributable to some personal problems I have (turns out my kids got their hypotonia from me, and I have some wicked allergies). The kindle let me just hoover up the contents of a book, without any of the logistical problems of paper books (acquiring, storing, organizing, de-accessioning, holding upright while lying in bed or nursing a child, etc.). But not everyone has my issues and some fraction of the population is going to be buying and reading paper books for centuries to come. Evolving the bookstore AWAY from how-many-books-can-we-have-on-site (a service better provided through a warehouse and quick shipping, whether the order is placed at home or in a physical store) and towards taking best advantage of all the design work that went into the physical book makes a ton of sense.
Of course, I didn't think of that until -after- I read this article.