Amazon to open around 400 bookstores, according to reports
Amazon’s recently opened Books store in Seattle, November 2015Getty Images

Amazon plans to open hundreds of bookstores across the United States, a Chicago-based mall operator has claimed. The online retailer, blamed for the closure of bookstores, notably in the US, recently opened a bookstore in its hometown, Seattle.

Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of mall operator General Growth Properties, said: "Their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores." Mathrani made the comment when speaking to analysts on the relevance of malls in today's economy.

However, Mathrani declined to specify the source of his information. Kevin Berry, VP of investor relations at General Growth Properties, also refused to comment, neither denying nor confirming Mathrani's statement. Amazon has made no official announcement about the plan either. Its spokesperson said the company does not comment on "rumours and speculation".

Mathrani's comments on Amazon's probable expansion plans were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Should the company go ahead with its speculated plan, it could become a major competitor to many leading and already established bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders. The company's impressive success in e-book sales has already had a somewhat crippling effect on brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon's Seattle store, opened in November 2015, offers customers books at prices similar to those posted on its online website. Customers have the option of scanning books using a mobile app to check updated prices, given that price fluctuations are common on Amazon's website.

Amazon is not the first tech firm to explore the concept of physical stores, shifting focus from ecommerce. Microsoft opened a flagship store in New York in September 2015 to join the ranks of its 100 other physical stores nationwide. Apple, which opened its first store in the US in 2001, is also looking to expand sales globally by increasing focus on India and launching its own stores in the country.