Powell's Books CEO dishes on Amazon's threat

Powell's Books CEO: Another generation of print readers coming

After Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle last year, reports surfaced that the Internet giant could potentially be opening hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores throughout the country.

Though this possible move, which has not been confirmed by Amazon, could be deemed a threat to existing chains and smaller bookstores, Miriam Sontz, Powell's Books CEO, sees it as a nod to the physical-bookstore-business model.

"I thought it was a great acknowledgement of something that independent brick-and-mortar stores have known for the past few decades, which is there is something special that occurs at a physical bookstore that is not replicable on the Internet," Sontz told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Friday. "People have tried, and it's just not the same experience. It doesn't have the same serendipity. It doesn't have the same sense of community."

Sontz was skeptical that opening an Amazon chain could work, especially since retail spaces are becoming increasingly expensive. She noted that Powell's Books, a bookstore chain located in Portland, Oregon, has not expanded to places like New York City because real estate is too pricey.

"Brick and mortar is under major attack in New York City because of the high cost of the monthly rental," she said.

She was also doubtful that Amazon would be able to expand successfully, since one Amazon store may be considered a novel concept, but opening 200 of the exact same store is "less exciting."

Still, the concept of Amazon opening stores nationwide would be interesting to imagine, she said.

"I think it's pretty incredible that there is a major online realtor who is making this kind of bid to work in the brick-and-mortar environment," Sontz said.

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