Will Amazon really open 400 bookstores?

Reports in the media earlier this week that Amazon intends to open 400 bookstores in the shopping malls of the world may have somewhat exaggerated the e-business giants’ intentions, it has emerged.

The story began after Sandep Mathrani, the chief executive of a US shopping mall developer called General Growth Properties (GGP), told a financial analyst on Tuesday that he understood Amazon’s goal was "to open 300 to 400 bookstores".

He added that this was part of a trend for successful online retailers to move back into physical space, and he cited US eyeware company Warby Parker and men’s clothing retailer Bonobos as examples.

That story was picked up by The Wall Street Journal and spread from there to every other major news site.

It was further elaborated on one tech news website into a plan to create the "retail stores of the future" a decision that was "sending panic through the retail industry".

Amazon declined to speculate on rumours, but the developer yesterday issued a clarification of Mathrani’s statement, saying it "was not intended to represent Amazon’s plans".

The story was leant substance by Amazon’s decision last year to open a proper bookshop in its home town of Seattle, stocking titles based partly on reviews on the Amazon website. However, it may be some time before sister stores open in a shopping centre near you.

Photograph: Amazon’s only bookstore in Seattle. But the company is likely to stick with shipping rather than shopping centres (Sounder Bruce/Wikimedia Commons)

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