The guy who built the Kindle is leading Amazon's retail plans, including a store with no payment counters

Amazon’s long-time executive Steve Kessel is in charge of running the company’s new retail business, according to a report by Re/code’s Jason Del Ray.

Kessel joined Amazon in 1999 and was part of the team that built the original Kindle. He’s known to be close with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as he was one of the 10 people who directly reported to him before leaving for a sabbatical in 2012.

In early 2015, Kessel returned to Amazon, but his role has been unclear until now. Re/code says he’s been working on this project secretly for a long time.

Amazon’s retail ambitions were first revealed in November 2015 when it opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in downtown Seattle.

Aside from the bookstore, Kessel’s team is also planning to open physical stores that sell things other than books, although it’s unclear what they will be. Another idea it’s testing is a store without a payments gateway, allowing the customer to pay with a smartphone app instead.

Amazon is planning to open a new bookstore in Southern California, based on the job listings spotted by Re/code. One of the jobs says it will be in La Jolla or San Diego, the report said.

The news comes on the heels of a report that said Amazon could soon open 300 to 400 additional bookstores. Although the mall CEO who made those statements backpedaled Wednesday, saying his comments were “not intended to represent Amazon’s plan,” it’s seems clear that Amazon is getting serious about the retail space.

Read the full report here>>

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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