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Amazon's new bookstore is just a way to onboard new Prime customers, says Jason Calacanis

  • Amazon is opening a new bookstore in New York
  • Investor Jason Calacanis believes it's a way for Amazon to secure more Prime customers
  • "You are talking about generating tens of millions of dollars per store if you could convert 50 people to Amazon Prime," Calacanis told CNBC.
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Mark Wilson | Getty Images

Amazon's plan to open a new bookstore in midtown Manhattan is just an "on-ramp retail" strategy, investor and Inside.com Founder Jason Calacanis told CNBC on Wednesday.

Calacanis says the move is less about selling books and more about building out the company's online retail ecosystem.

"There are a number of people that haven't become a prime member and haven't played with the Kindle. This is Amazon's way to do on-ramp retail and relationship retail," said Calacanis.

Amazon's data-driven physical retail store is similar to the Apple store, he said. "You don't know how to use the iCloud service or photos and you are not sure what Apple TV is, and they educate you," said Calacanis. "It services the people who are very specifically fans of your product and deepens and strengthens that relationship," he said.

He added, "It also serves as an onramp to your entire ecosystem. If you look at Amazon Prime, if they were able to onboard two or three dozen people per day in the store, which seems pretty doable...They can do that by offering discounts on the books you get there at that moment in time," said Calacanis.

"You are talking about generating tens of millions of dollars per store if you could convert 50 people to Amazon Prime," he said. "We all know the LTV [lifetime value] of an Amazon prime member is low thousands of dollars."

Amazon shares hit an all time high on Wednesday morning.