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Amazon is opening a bookstore in the middle of Manhattan

The brick-and-mortar shop will be located inside The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Amazon's push into physical retail is hitting New York City this year.

The mammoth online retailer is opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore inside Manhattan's Time Warner Center at some point in 2017, a spokesperson said. The store will join retailers such as J. Crew, Diesel and Microsoft inside the Shops at Columbus Circle, an indoor mall that also features high-end restaurants. Defunct bookstore chain Borders once operated a location in the same mall.

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The Amazon shop is among the company's first handful of physical bookstores and its only one to date in New York. Amazon opened its first "Amazon Books" location in late 2015 in Seattle and has since opened two more on the West Coast. Amazon also plans to open bookstores in Chicago and the Boston area this year.

Amazon's existing bookstores feature a curated selection of Amazon best-sellers and books that, for the most part, have customer ratings of at least four out of five stars. Perhaps more importantly, the bookstores also showcase Amazon's gadgets, giving shoppers the chance to try out devices such as the popular Echo voice-controlled speakers before buying them.

To some bookstore owners and the people who love them, the Amazon initiative must seem like some cruel joke — Amazon, the bookstore slayer transformed into Amazon, the bookstore owner.

But Amazon's appetite for retail experimentation extends beyond Amazon Books shops. Amazon recently unveiled a Seattle convenience store, called Amazon Go, with no checkout and no cashiers. The company is only planning at least one grocery store.

The new retail projects are being overseen by Steve Kessel, a longtime Amazonian who led the first Kindle team and is tight with CEO Jeff Bezos. The head of Amazon Books, Jennifer Cast, reports to Kessel.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of Amazon's New York bookstore plans.

By Jason Del Rey, Recode.net.

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