Amazon may be the world’s largest online bookstore, but Portland’s Powell’s Books is the largest physical book store. When Amazon decided to open one their Amazon Books locations just outside of Portland (about thirty minutes by bus), I found it to be a rather interesting move. Naturally, I had to pay it a visit, and for a bookstore, there is a surprising amount of electronics and tech for sale too.
If you’re planning on visiting for the books aspect, there is a decent selection, but it is a very curated one. Don’t expect to be able to pick up an entire series unless the entire series is highly rated. Even then, you’ll likely still only find the first volume. That said, I was very happy to see the store did include a manga selection, but is was a very predictable selection: Attack on Titan, Assassination Classroom, and Food Wars, to name a few. It’s also a selection that seldom changes.
Another thing you won’t find at Amazon Books are price tags. There are price checkers, but you’re expected to have the Amazon app on a phone to scan barcodes to find prices. However, you do have to be a Prime subscriber to actually pay the Amazon price; if you’re not, just look at the price on the book as that’s the price you’ll get to pay.
As I mentioned earlier, for a book store, Amazon Books does have quite the electronics section too – notably Amazon-brand ones. You’ll find Kindles and Alexa in all of her forms, plus accessories that work with them, like Phillips Hue and some bluetooth headphones. If you’re in need of some basic cables (think HDMI, audio, chargers, etc) you’ll be able to find the Amazon Basics versions neatly tucked away in drawers – surprisingly right in the front of the store. In fact, you’d be forgiven for noticing the electronics before noticing the books.
Overall, Amazon Books feels very much like a concept store in its current form. It’s great if you need a spare HDMI cable or a best-selling book that day and Prime Now isn’t available in your area or is out of stock for a particular item. Size-wise, the store is tiny in comparison to Powell’s and the in-store selection isn’t nearly as good. It’s a store worth seeing at least once, but there’s room for improvement, perhaps in a larger location.