As part of Amazon’s restructuring of their retail arm, two Houston area retailers will soon close their doors. Amazon Books and Amazon 4-Star will be phased out of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar operations. Each store has one branch in the Houston area. With Amazon Books at Baybrook Mall, and Amazon 4-Star in Deerbrook Mall. This will leave Amazon’s physical presence in Houston to only Whole Foods. Prior to the writing of this article, the Amazon-associated retailer I had stepped foot into had been Whole Foods. I had been plenty of times prior to the buyout as well, and never really developed a taste for them. If I really needed something that hoity-toity Central Market probably had it, and Amazon’s ownership has not particularly improved my view of the company. While I do see the novelty of discounts for Prime Members, I’m not an Amazon member, so this ticks a negative box for me. I expected my outlook of Amazon Books to be equally dissatisfying, not putting too much faith into the e-commerce giant to pull off retail right. While it’s easy to imagine the basics of what this store sold, the reality was much broader. It wasn’t a bookstore, it was a gadget shop, an electronics outlet, and a toy store, all crammed around a wide selection of books. I’d recommend going through the photos to get an idea of what Amazon Books sells.
In the end, I was relatively impressed with my visit to Amazon Books. While the existence of the Prime Deals, was a big turn-off to me, the overall low prices were a big benefit. Most things seemed close to, if not matching actual online pricing. The books were extremely cheap and likely the best argument I can make for this store’s existence. The gadgets and a small selection of toys definitely have their place in even a normal bookstore, but it’s overdone here. For the literary community, it’s a shame that these stores didn’t seem to catch on. While I have not yet had a chance to visit a 4-Star Shop, I’ve read that they are similarly “randomly stocked” with some of the highest-rated goods on Amazon. While I want to try and stop by before it closes, I’m not holding my breath. If you live near one of the malls, I’d recommend going and snapping a photo of the Amazon store inside, it will very well be a novelty that only a few folks have 15-20 years down the road.