SEATTLE

Amazon.com has plans to take its Seattle brick-and-mortar bookstore experiment to hundreds of locations across the country, the CEO of a huge mall operator said Tuesday.

In an earnings call with analysts, General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani said that Amazon’s goal “is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores.”

The executive was discussing how malls are still relevant to customers and actually complementary to booming e-commerce, because it’s a convenient place not only to browse merchandise but also to make in-store returns.

Amazon declined to comment on Mathrani’s statement, saying it does not comment on rumors or speculation.

On Wednesday, General Growth Properties issued a statement saying that his remarks were “not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.” A New York Times report, citing one unidentified source Wednesday, said Amazon could open more bookstores in the future but at a more modest pace.

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Amazon’s first-ever brick-and-mortar bookstore opened in Seattle last November, betting that its rich hoard of data would allow it to pick books local readers would actually like, making a store run more efficiently. The company didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

If true, Amazon’s mall foray would fall in line with similar moves by other Internet-based retailers, such as Bonobos and Warby Parker, both of which opened locations in Seattle last year. These e-commerce players see in brick-and-mortar stores not only a way to capture customers reluctant to go online, but also an extension of their brand.

Mathrani, the General Growth Properties CEO, said in the Tuesday analyst call that for malls, e-commerce is “actually your friend, not your enemy.” with AP