Will Amazon Prime Now Hurt Manhattan Bookstores?

In Discussion by Dennis Abrams

Amazon Prime Now Manhattan
Amazon Prime Now, the Seattle giant’s one-hour delivery service, is now available in Manhattan, and the service includes books. How will it impact B&N and other bookstores?

By Dennis Abrams

Amazon has made its Prime Now one-hour delivery service available through all of Manhattan as of the end of last week. Now the question must be asked: will Amazon Prime Now be the nail in the coffin for Manhattan bookstores, who continue to battle sky-high rents?

In addition, Prime Now has also moved into Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Park Slope and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn — but currently, only two-hour shipping is available in those areas. This might be enough to allow the notoriously fierce and fabulous Brooklyn independent bookstores to breathe a little easier.

As David Lumb wrote at fastcompany.com:

“For its new one-hour delivery in Manhattan, Amazon will instead use an army of bike couriers—which means the company’s on-time reputation will depend on an entirely new infrastructure. That is, entirely new for Amazon: New York City has had bike courier delivery almost since bicycles were invented, with Western Union telegraph boys zipping around the city delivering telegrams as far back as the 1890s. Amazon has been setting itself up for today’s launch for some time. The company rented an office/warehouse space on 34th Street last year that allows it to control its own supply line on a scale just big enough for Manhattan.


“The one-hour Prime Now delivery is available only to Prime members, a limit that makes sense: Prime membership is where Amazon makes the big money. Prime members spend almost twice as much money annually on Amazon than non-Prime members, Quartz reports, and with each Prime Now order costing $8 per delivery, Amazon is set to rake in more cash while providing yet another service to boost the value of Prime membership.”

According to TechFlash, a portion of Amazon’s 470,000-square-foot leased space on 34th St will serve as a delivery hub for Prime Now.

Prime subscribers can get free two-hour deliveries (users select the two-hour delivery window) for free from 6 a.m. until midnight, with an additional charge of $7.99 for one hour delivery, covering not only books, but “essential” products such as paper towels, toys, and electronics. Customers make their purchases through a dedicated app.

Amazon plans to expand its Prime Now program not only throughout all of NYC but into other metropolitan areas in the near future, but has declined to give any additional information.

So, how will Amazon’s fast delivery impact struggling bookstores, particularly Barnes & Noble?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.