Amazon to open bookstores in Chicago and Portland

When in doubt, look to the books.

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For an independent bookstore, few threats are bigger than Amazon. With its e-book store and brutally competitive print book prices, it can be hard for a family-run business to compete. Well, it's only going to get tougher now that Amazon is expanding its footprint of physical stores. The company has confirmed it'll be setting up shop in Chicago and Portland -- these locations will be joining Seattle, which opened in November, New York and San Diego. The details of each store is under wraps, but it's safe to assume they'll be packed with Kindles and Kindle Fire tablets.

Amazon has built its business online, but seems to be learning that there's value in having a physical presence too. Sales assistants can explain the advantages of a particular product or service -- something that's increasingly useful as it builds a whole range of Prime perks and premium, quick-turnaround delivery services. As for books, well, there's something to be said about visiting a store and plucking an interesting novel off the shelf. Gazing at the cover, reading the blurb and flicking through the pages. (Sigh.) It'll be a while before Amazon's stores have that old, musty feel to them, but hey, they beat looking around a website for hours on end.