Amazon to open brick-and-mortar store in Bay Area's Walnut Creek

WALNUT CREEK (KTVU) -- Online retailing giant Amazon has announced that it is planning to open a brick-and-mortar store in Walnut Creek.

The company, which has been blamed in the past for the demise of mom-and-pop bookstores and their larger counterparts, plans to open its bookstore in the Broadway Plaza town center sometime this year but a specific date has not been disclosed.

When told about the development, some shoppers seemed happy about Amazon's plans.

I love reading," Willis St. John said. "I like to browse. I think it's great. Absolutely great."

Walnut Creek currently has no general bookstores and the nearest one is Rakestraw Books in Danville, which is about 20 minutes away.

But Michael Barnard, owner of Rakestraw, said he is not concerned that competition from the new Amazon store will hurt his small business because his store offers author readings and educational programs.

"That could be a challenge," he said. "But we've been riding out challenges for a long time."

Amazon opened its first standalone store in Seattle in 2015 and stores in Portland and San Diego followed. The stores heavily promote the Amazon Prime program, which costs $99 a year and comes with unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows and allows subscribers to borrow books from the Kindle library.

Jim Dourgarian, a book dealer in Walnut Creek for more than 35 years, says it is always good when a bookstore opens and promotes reading. But he notes the ironic twist that Amazon.com, which he says helped put a lot of independent bookstores out of business, is now adding brick-and-mortar stores.

"People would go into the local bookstore (and) find what they want," Dourigairan said. "Then order it on line to save $1.49. And that's lead to the destruction of bookstores all across the country."

Still some shoppers say having a bookstore is in some ways better than buying them online.

"I buy books for my kids," said Wendy Ho of Oakland. "And it is nice to see them in hand and have them (to) look at first."

Booksellers say their biggest hope is that the new Amazon store will help customers fall in love with books again -- a benefit for all.

By KTVU reporter Rob Roth.

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