The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!

The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!

Someone I knew was nice enough to alert me to the fact that the new Amazon Books opened today in Walnut Creek, California. That’s near where I live…it’s across the Bay and then some from San Francisco. This store is in Broadway Plaza: an upscale, open air “mall”…the kind of place with both a Nordstrom and a Soulcycle. 🙂

I knew it was going to open, but I didn’t know when…I think they were a bit surprised that a blogger was there the first day, although stories about it had appeared locally.

I’ll describe it, but I should mention that I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself, so I was looking at it with a more professional eye than many would. I also did introduce myself right away, but I don’t think that changed the service much. I chatted with the Manager more than I think most people would do…but I also saw that same Manager helping other people for extended periods.

I just thought it was fair for them to know I was there and taking pictures. 🙂 I won’t identify anybody there by name, and I didn’t ask for any “trade secrets”…I just went through the store as a customer would.

Let’s start out with general impressions. It was bright and airy, clean and well merchandised (I only saw a few things customers might not have put quite back in the right place…very minor). The floor looked like it was wood, and there were generous windows in the front. There was gentle music (not Muzak, but not intrusive). The ceiling was high, and painted black…sort of faux industrial, but in a modern, aesthetically pleasing way.

There were no boxes of books on the floor: that’s common in bookstores. All of the books were “faced” (you didn’t see their spines), and they all had cards explaining them underneath (typically with a quotation from a customer).

I would say four different people came up to me, and we chatted. They were clearly book people, like I might have hired. 🙂 I asked one to name me a favorite bookstore which was no longer around: the answer was a great one for people from the area…Bonanza Books in Walnut Creek, where I had spent many an hour.

It’s not an old-fashioned bookstore : there are toys, and a lot of devices, and other sundry…all also on the Amazon website. They weren’t all made by Amazon, either:


There are also Amazon specific elements…while you still go through a check-out (unlike the Amazon Go stores with which they are experimenting), you can pay for your purchases with the Amazon App on your phone! That’s right, you don’t need a credit card or cash. I’ve said before that if I could pay for everything I buy through Amazon, I would happily do so…this gets me closer.


Also, there are two price tiers, at least on books (not on everything). If you are a Prime member, you pay the price that’s on Amazon right then (you can scan the book to find out). If you aren’t, you pay the list price (the price the publisher puts on the book on the book).

The selection was attractive, including local interest books and magazines.

I especially liked that there was a whole kids’ section, a bit angled off from the main area:


Yep, that’s a kid size table…with Fire tablets and toys. 😉

Naturally, I looked to see if my sibling’s book

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

was there…it was featured in the first Amazon Books store in Seattle. It wasn’t, but a helpful person informed me I could get it online. 🙂

A few other notes:

  • There were comfortable chairs available
  • There was a full Peet’s Coffee
  • There were magazines…quite a few, actually
  • There was a section for “page turners”, that Kindle readers had finished in three days…for a while, we Kindleers called those “button mashers” 😉
  • Other sections had to do with popularity at Amazon…oh, and as in the other Amazon Books, you see the star ratings for the books
  • There were a lot of ways to buy Amazon gift cards…you could buy them in nice little packages

Overall, I was very pleased! It was a pleasant shopping experience, and would be convenient. It’s not like being in a giant bookstore, but that’s a good thing. The staff seemed well prepared, professional, and friendly. There were devices and toys…but I would say a smaller percentage of the store was toys than would be true at a Barnes & Noble, and the small items they had were more like what you would see at a Half Price Books.

If you have questions, let me know. If you’ve been there (or to another Amazon Books), feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


7 Responses to “The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!”

  1. Phink Says:

    I’d love to visit one of these stores but none will be within driving distance of NE Arkansas for years, it ever. For a minute or so while reading this I thought ‘we should take our vacation next summer to a location that has an Amazon Books store’ but quickly realized I did not want to visit one that badly LOL.

    The store looks great. I am not a person who enjoys shopping but don’t hate it either. I can go shopping with my wife and not be miserable. If I go to an average mall there might one 1-2 stores I personally want to go into. I’d like to see this though.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Oh, I’d thought about that myself before…going some place with an Amazon Books to see it. 🙂 That would have been tied together with something else, of course. Now, that’s not necessary.

      I kind of tried to figure how I could get up to Maine to see Loren Coleman’s cryptozoology museum (I donated a Jenny Hanniver to it…I know this all might be pretty arcane) when we were in New York for my sibling’s wedding, but that wasn’t going to work out. I’ve had minor correspondence with Loren for decades, but we’ve never me in real life.

  2. Tom S Says:

    As it happens, I visited Amazon Books in San Jose (opened in August) a couple of nights ago to get some hands on with the new KIndle Oasis. It’s not my cup of coffee: it has been years since the days I had time and interest to wander around a bookstore looking for something interesting to read. I have hundreds of interesting things to read in my pocket, and no shortage of discoveries via recommendation engines, podcasts, etc.

    As a technology showroom, I was disappointed. The Oasis on display apparently had pre-release software on it: no Audible, not even the font size and boldness feature enhancements, and for some reason a number of the books they had loaded on it did not have cover thumbnails, which made it look a little broken. It was in some store demo mode so Settings could not be accessed to look at the Invert Black & White feature. Why could they not push updates out (even before general release) to in-store devices so that people can experience them at their best? Store staff would not even need to be involved.

    The store did seem busy without being crowded; I had to wait a couple of minutes to have my time with Oasis but there was no one waiting behind me. Mostly people were looking at books, using the tablets to look things up, very few at the gadgets. At a location like Santana Row they have plenty of foot traffic, and it is a welcoming place to drop in for a few minutes. I think it will be there long after the Barnes and Noble down the street closes.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Well, unless you were just visiting, we are probably not too far apart geographically. Perhaps something like an hour with no traffic…and two hours normally. 😉

      I did pick up the KO2, and I was impressed with how slender it was. It did feel good in my hand. I didn’t take the time to try the software…I was trying to get through the store in the time I had.

      Santana Row, though, is very different from Broadway Plaza. While at one point they tried to get people to call Walnut Creek “Wired Creek”, that wasn’t going to happen. There is tech up here, but not like San Jose. I don’t think it’s a “technology showroom” for this crowd…they will do hands on, but I don’t think they’ll usually be going to several stores to compare EBRs. They’ll be looking for a reason why it is disqualified, rather than why it is the best.

      As to being crowded…I said to my Significant Other that it does concern me at the holidays. Put thirty-five people in the Broadway Plaza store, and it would start feeling like being on a submarine. 😉 Get sixty, and it’s going to be Soylent Green time. 😉

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