Amazon's latest target: University Book Store

Will Amazon's promotion of their new student service pose a threat to traditional book buying at the University of Washington?
An Amazon promotional set-up at the Husky Union Building, where the University Book Store has a branch.

An Amazon promotional set-up at the Husky Union Building, where the University Book Store has a branch. Photo courtesy of Shelf Awareness (www.shelf-awareness.com)

With textbook purchasing in high gear at the start of the University of Washington's quarter, Amazon.com set up outside the Husky Union Building on Monday and Tuesday, apparently looking to lure business away from the University Book Store. Several young Amazon reps stationed directly outside the store approached students to tell them they could save hundreds of dollars on textbooks by using Amazon Student, a new service similar to Amazon Prime. 

Among other things, the Am-reps held Kindle raffles. The 12:30 p.m., cleverly timed to capture the lunch crowd. Which also pretty much brought things to a halt, blocking the entire hallway and stairs. "It affected us. It affected food services. It would have been impossible for anyone to walk through," said Jonathan Day, HUB branch manager. One online newsletter for booksellers headlined the promo a "New Amazon Low." 

As Amazon surely knows, the U Book Store has been a leader in letting students compare textbook prices. On the bookstore's website, students can easily get the bookstore's prices for new and used textbooks along with comparisons from what Day calls "basically all of the online booksellers." Amazon included. We are hoping for a response from the Amazon pr office, perhaps via drone.

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.


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