Monday, October 28, 2013

Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

This is a fascinating book. It's a comprehensive, well-written and incredibly detailed history of Amazon from its beginnings in the mid 1990's to now.

It's also the story of Amazon's brilliant and half crazy founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Stone takes a very strategic perspective. He's a seasoned business journalist and it shows. Every major move Amazon has taken over the years - hirings, acquisitions, policies - is analysed in the sort of detail that could only have come from very senior insiders.

But it's far from a whitewash either. The negatives are all there, including awful tales of a frequently toxic workplace culture. One manager who left in disgust says 'my challenge with Amazon is finding a way to describe it without making me puke'.

Bezos is frequently rude, abrasive and cruel, and prone to outrageous displays of violent anger in meetings. Yet he's a strategic genius. 

The story of the development of the Kindle and all the decisions that were taken over the three year period, including the arguments with publishers and suppliers, is fascinating. And how did the infamous $9.99 price point for ebooks come about? It was just Bezos' 'gut call'. 

Amazon developed as, and still is, a relentlessly innovative and disruptive operation, as well as a calculating and ruthless one. It has 'an absolute willingness to torch the landscape around [it] to emerge the winner'.

A particular strength of the book is its stories and insights around Amazon's numerous acquisitions, many of them complete failures. Far more failed than succeeded.

This is one of the best business books you'll read. It is that good. Highly recommended.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Peter. I've just used your blog to make my holiday reading list. Heading off to my local (Benn's Books) now to see what they can do for me! Susannah