Image Credit: Nic Taylor, flickr

Books on Bikes: Amazon’s New 1-Hour Delivery Service

Last week, Amazon’s new “Prime Now” 1-hour delivery services became available to all Manhattan residents after a two month test in select Manhattan neighborhoods.

On Twitter, customers are calling Prime Now “Awesome,” “Great,” “Amazing” and a “game changer.”

Prime Now includes book delivery and some members of the literary and retail community worry that this new service will hurt local and independent bookstores.

Publishing Perspectives posed the question: “…will Amazon Prime Now be the nail in the coffin for Manhattan bookstores, who continue to battle sky-high rents?”

But  Nicole Dieker, a Manhattan resident who tried to order some books through the Amazon Prime Now app (APN) and wrote a blow-by-blow account of the ordeal, says the service isn’t (yet) for book lovers.  She writes:

I type in “books” to see what APN recommends. I wonder if the app has access to previous book purchases and my Kindle reading history. I check a lot of Kindle books out of the library, so I’m hoping that APN considers these titles along with my purchased titles before offering me customized recommendations.

Amazon’s top result for “books” is Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods by Sandra Boynton. The APN app clearly does not have access to my Amazon reading history.

I try searching “bestselling books” and get another list of kids’ books….For my next round of searching, I type in the title of a book I want to read: Lisa Genova’s Still Alice. No luck, although Amazon helpfully suggests the Alice in Wonderland Two-Disc Special Un-Anniversary Edition. (Get with it, Amazon. If I’ve done three searches for books, I don’t know why you’re showing me DVDs.)

Then I search for Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. Amazon returns Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises 2-Disc Blu-Ray+DVD Combo Pack.

Does Amazon Prime Now sell adult popular fiction at all? I try a blanket search for “mystery books” and get The Boxcar Children Books 1-12. I scroll past several children’s titles until I eventually find a few adult titles, including Gone Girl and Ready Player One—which won’t work for this purchase because I’ve already read both of them (and enjoyed one of them).

So, fine. I guess I won’t be buying books.

Currently, the expedited 1 hour fee for “Prime Now” services is $7.99, but Prime members can receive free delivery within a 2 hour window. According to Publishing Perspectives, Amazon will use local bike couriers to deliver its products to Prime members, and they plan to extend this service “not only throughout all of NYC but into other metropolitan areas in the near future.”

How do you think Prime Now will affect booksellers and retailers? Tell us in the comments below!

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