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Amazon Books store opens in Southern California

Roxana Mashek visits the Amazon Books store in San Diego on Wednesday. She ended up buying a copy of comedian Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance.”
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Amazon Books, the e-commerce giant’s seemingly incongruous bricks-and-mortar venture, is now open in San Diego. The store marks the company’s second foray into offline retail.

The 3,500-square-foot shop at a mall in the University City neighborhood premiered with little fanfare Sept. 7 and is open daily.

The opening comes 10 months after the first Amazon Books store debuted in Seattle. It arrives amid a shift in the offline book-selling business, which, after years of decline, has made a partial comeback. Last year, the total number of U.S. bookstores surpassed 2,200, up from 1,400 in 2009, according to the American Booksellers Assn.

The physical stores reinforce Amazon.com Inc.’s original mission as an online bookseller, said Miro Copic, marketing professor at San Diego State University.

Like the Seattle store, San Diego’s Amazon Books location is crafted to sell a curated selection of books and to heavily promote Amazon’s Prime subscription service and its electronic devices.

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Shoppers will find a limited number of titles (roughly 3,500 books in total), selected based on factors such as online customer reviews and sales data. Books are placed face-out on the shelves with an accompanying card that includes the average rating and a review — but not the price.

The store is designed to funnel shoppers into Amazon’s broader e-commerce marketplace. Sales associates’ most frequent refrain — “Do you have the Amazon app on your phone?” — is a reminder that something larger is at play. Shoppers are trained not only on how to download the Amazon app and scan books to check prices, but also are encouraged to pay with their Amazon account, via smartphone, at checkout.

Van Grove writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

jennifer.vangrove@sduniontribune.com

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