Amazon sources close to the situation have told us that the company is planning on rolling out a retail store in Seattle within the next few months. This project is a test to gauge the market and see if a chain of stores would be profitable. They intend on going with the small boutique route with the main emphasis on books from their growing line of Amazon Exclusives and selling their e-readers and tablets. [...] The store itself is not just selling tangible items like e-readers and tablets but also their books. Amazon recently started their own publishing division and has locked up many indie and prominent figures to write exclusively with the company. This has prompted their rivals such as Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million to publicly proclaim they won’t touch Amazon’s physical books with a ten-foot pole. Amazon launching their own store will give customer a way to physically buy books and also sample ebooks via WIFI when they are in a physical location.
The store is reportedly going to open before Christmas, sometime after Amazon releases the Kindle Fire 2. The rumor suggests that these stores will more closely resemble Apple Stores, rather than Walmarts. This isn't the first time this rumor has come up, but it does seem likely, especially considering the way Amazon's tech side has modeled themselves after Apple in recent years. The problem with the Apple model is that it's hard to lightly stock a bookstore—you try explaining to the angry schmuck who "drove all the way in from Redmond and had to find parking" about why you don't carry the new Glenn Beck book when you do carry Nancy Pearl's Book Lust line. This is going to take some fine-tuned messaging, I think.