Amazon Draws Up Fine Art Store
By David A. Utter
A new art gallery opened, but not in a neighborhood full of coffee shops and bike-riding hipster types. It opened in beta on Amazon as the company unveiled its Fine Art store for testing and purchasing.
An Amazon spokesperson said the Fine Art store allows customers to shop approximately 40,000 works of art from more than 150 prestigious galleries and dealers. "Featuring works from more than 4,500 artists, Amazon's Art store is currently the largest online collection of original and limited edition artwork for purchase direct from galleries," she said.
Amazon had been approaching art dealers with the opportunity to participate in this new program. But rather than charging galleries a monthly presentation fee, Amazon will simply collect a commission on each sale, likely ranging from five to fifteen percent.
Several well-known names are featured artists on display on Amazon Fine Art. Works by Chagall, Dali and Warhol appear here. A quick search for Renoir found several etchings, while a query for Monet turned up a handful of five-figure lithographs by the Impressionist, scattered in with works by other artists.
The challenge for Amazon will be to attract a buying audience to purchase fine art through what may be an unexpected venue for such ecommerce. As Amazon has been competing more with Walmart atop the retail world, frequently on pricing, the idea of buying a $500,000 diamond-studded work by Damien Hirst through Amazon may feel jarring to a monied clientele.
Amazon hasn't forgotten the more frugal art-loving people among its client base. Their Fine Art presents a category of works costing under $200, with over 3,000 works listed there. In this price range they will compete more directly with sites like Art.com.
Those competing sites in the art niche offer an established, deeper business and services like framing, something which Amazon doesn't currently seem to offer on the purchase pages for its displayed works. As always, fighting off the biggest name in retail will mean offering a better experience for customers, beyond just a product listing and a price.
About the author:
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to email@example.com and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
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