Amazon sources close to the situation have told us that the company is planning on rolling out a retail store in Seattle within the next few months. This project is a test to gauge the market and see if a chain of stores would be profitable. They intend on going with the small boutique route with the main emphasis on books from their growing line of Amazon Exclusives and selling their e-readers and tablets.
One of the most touted advantages of Amazon's rival, Barnes & Noble, is its presence in countless shopping precincts across the US. Customers readily identify the Nook with Barnes & Noble, and are able to accordingly venture into their local bookstore to test out the latest hardware.
Of course, Amazon's hardware is also available in Target and Best Buy, but there is a distinct lack of an Amazon-specific destination. Having consumers trial your products on your own terms and within your own environment is clearly beneficial, as evidenced by Apple's successful Apple Stores across the world.
Adopting a so-called "boutique" aesthetic makes a lot of sense, and would likely serve to further instantiate the Kindle brand in the public's consciousness. Furthermore, for many who remain unaccustomed to online shopping, seeing the arrival of the venerable Amazon name in a physical locale will reinforce and ground the retail giant, embossing credibility and undercutting any lingering concerns.
From my perspective, such a move is a logical step for Amazon, and I'm excited to see what comes of this speculation.