Amazon -- which just opened its first bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle -- may have plans to open hundreds more. The CEO of a major shopping mall operator let that news slip in a conference call with investors this afternoon.
If Amazon opens 400 stores, as the Wall Street Journal is saying it might, it could surpass Books-a-Million, which has 255 stores, and start closing in on Barnes and Noble, which has about 640.
Why would Amazon do it? There are a variety of explanations. Some say it may want more physical locations for consumers to "test drive" products like the Kindle or Echo. Others say that Amazon just likes to dominate any space it can, and it sees the physical bookstore space as ripe for the taking.
The website Gizmodo opined that Amazon is doing this because "life is a practical joke played on all of us."
At least for now, Amazon is not commenting.
Bricks and mortar retailers, who saw a significant share of their business move online last year, will not be pleased. One bookstore employee recently took to the pages of the Seattle Times to object to the bookstore Amazon is already operating in Seattle, saying "Shopping for a good book should not feel like another data point, another sale in the machine that tells the company how many books to buy."
But Amazon's first offline bookstore is also winning fans, like one writer for Vox who recently wrote, "I thought the Amazon store was a bad idea. Then I actually went there."
Amazon is not commenting right now, but if the reports are true, there will likely be a lot more talk about Amazon book stores in the days ahead, from Amazon critics and Amazon fans, from supporters of independent bookstores -- and from people who just like the idea of more places to buy and sell books.