Friday, October 24, 2014
The Everything Store by Brad Stone
I heard about this book, not because of reviews from other bloggers, but because of the one star review written by MacKenzie Bezos on Amazon.com. It sparked my interest, because Amazon.com is one of the main ways I buy print books in Japan.
This book basically covers Amazon.com from its inception to around 2012. That means that there's no coverage on the Amazon-Hachette dispute (although it is mentioned three times), which is a pity. And considering the developments made by Amazon in the past two years (in Japan, we got the Kindle! I'm quite curious as to know how that happened), I'm guessing that quite a lot of things have been left out, which makes this book *gasp* dated. But I guess that's what happens when the company you're covering moves so fast.
Since I'm not related to anyone working at Amazon, I have no way of knowing how many errors are in the book. But, the review by Kaphan shows at least one inaccuracy, and the review by MacKenzie shows another one. So I'm guessing a few, but no major errors.
As for author bias, I think it's rather even-handed. While the author does call loyal employees "Jeff Bots" and refer to their oft-repeated words as "Jeffisms", he does praise Amazon.com several times as well. He talks about how Jeff Bezos can be very generous (even though he can be ruthless at times), and gives plenty of examples.
I really like this book. It's easy to read, and it covers Amazon.com's history in quite some detail. I finished this book with a deeper respect for Amazon.com, although I can't tell whether this is a company that I'd like to work for (I get the sense that I won't truly know unless I get the chance to work there). Amazon's story is more than being in the right place in the right time, it's the story of being tenacious, and taking daring risks.
If you've been curious about Amazon.com, and want something more than One Click (click to see my review), then The Everything Store may be what you're looking for. On the whole, it's an even handed and comprehensive look at the history of Amazon.com.
Now, my wishlist for the next Amazon.com book is for someone to look at Amazon's impact on self-publishing, and its impact on other countries, such as Japan and the rest of Asia. I'm curious as to see how Amazon competes with other companies like Rakuten (who released the first eReader, Kobo, in Japan), and the Chinese counterparts.