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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos And The Age Of Amazon (2013)

by Brad Stone(Favorite Author)
3.88 of 5 Votes: 4
0316219266 (ISBN13: 9780316219266)
Little, Brown and Company
review 1: The guy who wants to sell you everything. I spotted this when it first came out and thought I'd get around to it eventually. But when word of the Amazon/Hatchette feud, along with this book being unavailable on Amazon.com came out, I decided it was worth bumping up my "to read" list. And yes, it is definitely worth the read. It's not at all surprising to see Amazon the way it is when you look at the founder, Jeff Bezos, and the story behind it. The book doesn't delve into Bezos' life that much--it's really about Amazon.com, from it's origins to growth to knocking out the competition and expanding to what customers want. Starting up as a little start up (with its founders and original employees meeting at Barnes & Noble of all places), we watch the store begin to grow fro... morem a simple book seller to so much more. While some of the details (Bezos' Wall Street career, some of the details about Amazon's financial numbers) are not interesting, Stone manages to weave it all into a story that flows well. First publishers see Amazon.com as an answer to their prayers from the monsters that is Barnes and Noble, Borders and soon places like Wal-Mart, Overstock.com, etc. These companies don't really see Amazon.com as a competitor. But boy, does that ever change. Eventually the beast grows and mutates into something none of them could ever imagine. And soon enough Amazon.com begins slaughtering its competition or at least being able to do damage to them. Publishers begin see Amazon.com as a threat. Wal-Mart, Target, etc., all realize Amazon is no longer a little bookstore. Places like Borders bleed too much, can't evolve and die. Zappos.com puts up a fight and eventually sells itself to the beast. Bezos can be ruthless, as the Zappos story shows. He was willing to pay a certain amount for the company, but the founders wanted to remain independent. So began a war of will and attrition. Interestingly enough, Stone says that while Zappos put up a good fight to a sort of draw (Amazon pays a lot to eventually defeat Zappos and ends up paying a LOT more than Bezos wanted), Amazon eventually wins. Bezos also doesn't seem to believe in the work life balance or work perks. The text discusses how employee attrition was pretty high, despite Amazon perfectly willing to make it VERY difficult for an employee to leave (suing them if they work for a competitor, for example). While things like free parking and meals (like Google) seem the norm, they apparently were (are?) not at Amazon. A few people are discussed leaving because they want to spend more time with their children/Amazon.com's schedule is not conducive for seeing their families. If we think about the controversy over their treatment of their warehouse employees, it's not surprising that it's a trickle down effect (although I suppose it's somewhat surprising that this appears company-wide, rather than just the low-skilled workforce). Overall it was a fascinating read about the store, although frustrating too. There's a part of me that didn't want to know--why should I support someone who clearly doesn't care? I realize this is business and there are costs, but I must say, this was a good backgrounder for the negative news stories about the company. But I also have Amazon Prime and have to acknowledge that it really makes things so much easier (especially as I don't have a car) and Amazon.com is very good at providing almost everything that I need (as well as selling items that are not readily available where I am). Definitely would recommend it, as it's a fascinating read. One thing I felt was missing was that I could have sworn Amazon used to have a search function to search restaurant menus--but that disappeared and I don't know what it was for. The book doesn't seem to mention it (it didn't last all that long) and I was curious if it became one of those food delivery sites out on the web. Either way, pick this up if you have any interest in Amazon.com
review 2: An excellently written book, and overall one I enjoyed quite a bit.I would not recommend it outright however, due to two largely unappealing themes; an emphasis on Bezos' superhuman attributes, as the "Most Successful CEO Of All Time", and the tiny fact at the end that Amazon utilizes stack ranking. It's difficult for me to reconcile the above two facts the book presents. That he is a super-genius with gargantuan work ethic that singlehandledly keeps the company afloat versus the fact that the business is unnecessarily exploitative, to both employees and vendors (exhibit A: Stack Ranking). less
Reviews (see all)
Excellent summary of the rise of Jeff Bezos and the culture and values he instills inside Amazon.
Everything you could possibly want to know about Amazon and Bezos. Fascinating
I liked it, but I rarely read biographies :)
Available at library (paperback)
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