On Tuesday, a routine earnings call hosted by a mall developer became the call that launched a hundred articles (and yes, this is one of them). According to The Wall Street Journal, Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of General Growth Properties, responded to a question about foot traffic with the surprising answer that Amazon will soon play a role in attracting shoppers, since the company is aiming to open 300 to 400 physical bookstores. After lots of speculation and a good deal of anger displayed by sources within Amazon (who haven’t yet officially denied the reports), Mathrani released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that his comment “was not intended to represent Amazon's plans.”
Regardless of whether it’s happening or not, the idea that Amazon might be opening hundreds of bookstores is clearly blowing people’s minds. One of the story’s main attractions is the irony that after beating physical bookstores to a pulp by selling books online at competitive prices, Amazon would open brick-and-mortar stores of their own. In fact, Amazon’s first “physical extension,” opened in Seattle last year, was seen as an oddity as well.
Here are a few possible reasons why Amazon would entertain the idea of opening physical stores: