Jim MilliotBooks are the longstanding foundation of Amazon’s e-commerce retailing experience. Last fall, ahead of the holiday shopping season, Amazon moved beyond one-click shopping and opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. This week, signs pointed to many more such physical storefronts to follow.

“While discussing the fourth quarter results of shopping mall developer General Growth Properties (GCP), CEO Sandy Mathrani said it was his understanding that Amazon planned to open between 300 and 400 physical bookstores,” reports Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly editorial director.

The unexpected news rolled in like a tidal wave on Tuesday, and dumped Barnes & Noble’s shares to a 52-week low. But like a tsunami the news then rolled back quickly afterward.

On Wednesday,” Milliot tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, “GGP released a statement that Mathrani’s comment ‘was not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.’ Amazon, as is its standard practice, kept mum. An Amazon spokesperson said the company does not comment on ‘rumors and speculation.’”

Nevertheless, and only adding to the mystery, Amazon has apparently posted job openings for several bookstore positions in the San Diego/La Jolla area, Milliot added.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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