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Amazon’s retail plans are bigger than a chain of bookstores.

Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

It seems Tuesday’s reports that Amazon may be planning to open up hundreds of physical bookstores were incorrect. Instead, Re/code reports that the retailer may not be planning hundreds of new bookstores, but it is planning a vast expansion into physical retail:

Amazon will indeed open up more bookstores, but it also plans to eventually unveil other types of retail stores in addition to bookstores, according to two sources familiar with the plans. It’s not yet clear what those stores will sell or how they will be formatted, but the retail team’s mission is to reimagine what shopping in a physical store would be like if you merged the best of physical retail with the best of Amazon.

This seems pretty much in keeping with Amazon’s entire business strategy: Drive all competitors out of business, then take their place. 

Except it also goes against Amazon’s holy grail of maximum efficiency. It’s much more efficient to shop from your living room and have a drone deliver your purchases to your doorstep. And it’s cheaper for Amazon to horde items in a giant warehouse, rather than invest in brick-and-mortar stores in expensive urban areas. 

If the Re/code report is correct, this may be an acknowledgement that maximum efficiency isn’t really attainable. Or it may be that Amazon aims to replace what it sees as an outdated model of retail and that it understands that its project of total retail domination isn’t possible without a physical presence.