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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book. But will I remain an amazon customer?
I bought from amazon pretty much since its inception and became a loyal customer. That's why I enjoyed reading this book (on my kindle, of course) to reconstruct the company's history that I knew from a customer's perspective: the vast book offering at first, then the additions such as "search inside this book", customer reviews, amazon marketplace, the increasing...
Published 11 months ago by Dr Jekyll

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3.0 out of 5 stars The rise and rise of Amazon.
Amazing story of a man's focus and determination to make a new technology thrive well beyond most business peoples scope of vision. Bezos attention to what matters to customers and the relentless pursuit of competitive edge should be a wake up call to all business's that trade not just online! it is a window on the future happening right now!
Published 7 months ago by Kevin Clarke


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book. But will I remain an amazon customer?, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
I bought from amazon pretty much since its inception and became a loyal customer. That's why I enjoyed reading this book (on my kindle, of course) to reconstruct the company's history that I knew from a customer's perspective: the vast book offering at first, then the additions such as "search inside this book", customer reviews, amazon marketplace, the increasing addition of categories such as music, the e-reader, etc. This book elaborates quite a lot about the behind-the-scene discussions and compromises the company made when launching these and other features and expanding into new markets (Amazon Web Services).

My only criticisms are that the book is a) very US-centric, and b) a bit weak when describing Bezos' initial motivations to launch an online bookstore. (It seems at first that Bezos' decision to tap into the book-market was primarily simply prudent as the market's distribution systems were of benefit for online retail; but increasingly, the reader learns that Bezos also has a true passion for books.)

I was frankly shocked about some internal policies at amazon: not only how they treat their own staff (something that got some press-coverage recently as well), but also how they systematically bully publishers and smaller retailers who don't necessarily want to abide to their terms. Though probably a libertarian by heart, I did not like how a multi-billion-turnover company seeks to systematically avoid paying taxes and manipulate local authorities/politicians.

In fact, reading this book made me research more ethical alternatives - the "ethical consumer" seems a trustworthy source - to avoid amazon whereever possible. So yes, in that way this book was very inspiring.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, entertaining, incomplete, 31 Oct 2013
By 
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This book is the story of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, from the perspective of a journalist who had plenty of access to employees and ex-employees as well as Jeff Bezos himself. The author makes clear both the faults and the successes of Bezos and Amazon, but limits the book's scope in some ways. While hinting at the devastation caused to traditional shopping (by Apple's iPod as well as Amazon's Kindle and other products), there isn't a lot of discussion here. Fair enough, as there will surely be other books about how Apple, Amazon and others have devastated local communities.

The author also says very little about Amazon's operations outside the USA, although I found it interesting that the reason Amazon haven't yet set up in Russia (the biggest economy still without an Amazon website) is because the infrastructure is inadequate just now. Perhaps that means South Korea will be next, though it doesn't get a mention.

Even within the main story of Amazon.com, a lot is omitted, one effect of which is the simplistic assertion that Amazon serves customers superbly while squeezing suppliers ruthlessly and expecting employees to devote themselves to Amazon without any regard for a work / family life balance. I have heard bits and pieces over the years about the way Amazon treat their employees, all of it reinforced by this book and then some. As for the author's distinction between customers and suppliers, that overlooks the fact that some customers have voluntarily contributed content to Amazon's website in the form of reviews, Listmanias, "So you'd like to ...." guides, tags, customer images and other stuff. The author occasionally mentions reviews in passing (listed in the index under customer reviews), but very few other software features are mentioned. Associates get a mention, as does Mechanical Turk (in its case, far more space than it deserves).

Customers who have contributed such content know that Amazon's attitude towards any problems or complaints about reviews, etc. is, for the most part, far less enthusiastic than their attitude regarding any problems or complaints about orders. Occasionally, a customer may get a fantastic response to a problem or complaint about reviews, etc., but this is a comparative rarity. What Amazon seem unable to understand is that some people who have felt badly treated because of problems with reviews or other content have stopped buying from Amazon altogether. These quitters obviously don't show up in Amazon's metrics that the author sometimes mentions, but they have made themselves heard on forums and blogs. I haven't quit, nor will I, but I am only one customer - and I am addicted to reviewing. Very few customers are as addicted as I am.

The author discusses third-party sellers originally via Auctions, then z Shops, then finally putting the option to buy from third parties in the main "Buy" box. Amazon's 1-Click option also gets discussed, but there was and is so much more to Amazon's software than this book covers.

The author is much more interested in Amazon Web Services and Amazon Kindle, both of which get plenty of coverage, along with Amazon's battles with Google, eBay and Apple. These are not things that especially concern me (yet), but I expected them to be discussed and they are interesting.

Amazon's quest to become an everything store carries dangers that the author does not mention. I remember that when Woolworth UK went bust, it was reported that the problem was that it lacked focus. In other words, it was a victim of the very diversity that had made it successful originally. Amazon's retailing diversity is already far greater than any brick-and-mortar retailer ever was, and it has also branched into other areas such as Amazon Web Services and Amazon Kindle, with the likelihood of more to come. The internet world is still young and none of us can predict the future, but it will be interesting.

My first impressions of Amazon were very positive, but over the years I have learned to be more critical. This book reinforces my misgivings. Despite Amazon's diverse product range, I prefer to buy locally where possible even if the price is a little higher (it's sometimes lower). The devastation caused by Apple, Amazon and others is clear for all to see, and while acknowledging that my reviews may contribute, I know that some other customers also use Amazon reviews but sometimes buy locally.

I have been hoping for many years that a customer would write a book about Amazon from the perspective of a reviewer or other contributor of content. So far, no such book has been written, but I have a feeling that 2014 may be that year.

So this book is fantastic in so many ways in describing Amazon's history from a business perspective, and also plenty of information about Jeff Bezos, even mentioning his e-mail address. I won't be using that again, although I used to use it occasionally a few years ago. When I last mentioned it on a forum, my post was replaced by the message "Deleted by Amazon".

Meanwhile, although this book misses out a lot, it is brilliant at those aspects that it covers. For anybody who is interested in the history of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, this book is well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brad Stone is a skilled elaborator and provides good insight to the history and ways of Amazon, 17 Oct 2014
Ok here is a somewhat black swan review of Amazon on Amazon!
Brad Stone is a skilled elaborator and provides good insight to the history and ways of Amazon. This elaboration includes both interesting and less interesting topics. He is not without bias and it apparent there is a certain amount of admiration for his subject and Besoz. But it’s not too much and he is still open to exploring criticisms and views from others.
A significant amount of the book is given over to explaining the background and caricature of Bezos. He is described as person who in the early days of Amazon and probably still today had ambitions far beyond the others he was working with. He is described of coupling this with boundless determination. He was influenced by science fiction books and sees amazon as a missionary helping the world adjust to new innovations. It seems new things like eBooks are inevitable and going to happen so it’s he has little sympathy for companies not jumping on the Amazon raft and let the currents of technological change wash past them.. Like other leaders of market leading companies he can also be demanding and intimidating. He is compared with similar CEOs Steve Jobs and Bullmar from Microsoft and some comparisons to early childhood are made.
Life is described by Stone within the Amazon enterprise. Excel and PowerPoint pitches were quickly banned (halleluiah!) and replaced with 6 page narratives for proposals (oh no!)... Innovation at Amazon is relentless and there is some detail and insight into the fulfilment centres including re-engineering everything from packaging to assembly lines to facilitate fast tracking priority shipping... Bezos was quick to highlight they were ‘not a retailer and not a bookseller but a technology company.’ He had high expectations for re-thinking business norms. There were also in the early days expectations that each new hire would be better than the last. Some other quirky structures include competing teams and Stone makes a point that any questions of work/life balance was not open for discussion due to the demands expected. We learn of unfriendly family practices and poor work life balance - worrying expectations that to be successful and creative you must sacrifice personal goals and wellbeing.
There were rare early occasions when the relentless success was celebrated such as all lavish staff trips to Hawaii. At other times the visionary aspects seemed too much for others - when staff wanted to celebrate topping revenues when all the time Bezos was on a path towards a 200 Billion dollar company and part of much longer yellow brick road than others realised.
The innovating which has brought much success is described including the many trials of new innovations such as jewellery selling, auctioneering, and prime. There is also detail on the tough negotiations Amazon wields with other business and its demands and expectations it places on them due to their large market share. This too was mostly met with brutal success in variety and range of products that exist today. The deal making with suppliers and negotiations are portrayed as aggressive and leveraging competitive swords to those wanting to promote on websites...But it was not without its failures often with major companies with considerable presence. Notice for example limited apple product selling, Walmart weren’t interested. However many of the successes gifted new products to the consumers including things like best sellers on the kindle for $9.99. Innovative coding is a foundation pillar and allowed for things like ‘look inside the book’ and targeted customer suggestions, amazon web services (cloud computing), and innovative bots that crawl internet to compare and match best product prices,3rd party selling.
Interesting comment late in the book about the black swan - Bezos semi-supported the authors work to create the book but was concerned on how the story would be told. He assumed it would trapped in an overly simplistic narrative. That urges to simplify and tell a warm fuzzy story. This would be instead of the reality. We are reminded often that a lot of these technological developments were complex and few had simple evolution. But it doesn’t really matter if this turned out to be the case or not. There is enough here from Stone to be interesting and useful anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it. Great Read, 29 Jun 2014
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As a user of Amazon I was a bit horrified to read about Jeff Bezos's shallow philosophy and his motivation to make a lot of money so he can spend it on developing space travel. Personally I think this is a sad way to use great power and wealth. But putting aside my opinions of his world-view, the story of Amazon is a great story and one that affects us all. Brad Stone's book is really well written and keeps you vigorously turning the pages. The energetic lives of such relentlessly driven, clever people as Bezos are always interesting. Certainly anyone in the retail business should read it, because he is, or will be, your competitor and if he is not thinking about how to replace you, he is wondering how to disintermediate you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars brutally honest, 18 July 2014
By 
Kev Partner "Writer, geek, dad." (Alton, Hamshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Not exactly an authorised version of Amazon's history but all the better for it. If you're at all interested in how internet business works, what makes Amazon tick or to peek behind the curtains at the mind and personality of Jeff Bezos, this is the book.
Although dry in places and with a tendency, from time to time, to feel like nothing more than a list of events, overall this is a fascinating account of a remarkable journey. It's the story of how, as with Apple and, to an extent, Microsoft, a global company can be propelled to break the mould by the genius, strength and personality of one person. I wouldn't want to work there, though...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for people believing e-commerce is the future, 17 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
A must read for people believing e-commerce is the future. It's full of details about how Amazon started up , the encountered difficulties and challenges and how it reached today's size and success , driven by its founder and his strong believe in innovating the way to interact and taking care of consumers. Through the book comes up clearly even the singolar personality of Jeff Bezos and how he continuosly investigated new ideas and modus operandi with a clear and strong long term view in all the decisions taken, how differentiate his company from others and how to be recognised by the consumers as best in class in customer service.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really well-written story, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic read and great insights into Bezos' management philosophy and style. Some really cool personal stories about Bezos as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The not-quite everything store, 10 Aug 2014
By 
Robert H. B. Samet "Futures researcher" (Grasby, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed reading this book, and the amount of detail provided by Brad Stone was exceptional. Anyone would agree that the management style of Jeff Bezos is controversial, but one has to appreciate the enormous risk that he has undertaken to create a real Amazon of a company. As the product lines have been extended year after year, I was left with a worrying feeling that the addition of perishable supermarket lines to make it an "everything store" would be a bridge too far and the supermarket giants may show him.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is Amazon evil?, 27 Dec 2013
By 
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
I am writing this review for Amazon and I am a longtime user of Amazon as a bookstore. I scarcely buy books from other sources. Before, I was regular user of the best bookstore in my city, but now I go there seldom and don't buy much. In addition, I am a fan of the new Kindle fire which for me is the best way to read books and acquire them. So, for me Amazon has changed everything as a book buyer. I should be thankful for Jeff Bezos. Still I am very divided. I am glad that there are physical bookstores and I am very sorry to see them disappear. When I was young, there was a large and lively bookstore in our neighbourhood, but now there are perhaps two or three real bookstores in the whole city.
Brad Stone tells the story of Amazon's development from the meagre beginnings to the present situation where it is the Everything store giant growing irresistibly. He is quite open about the negative side of this development, both for the employees and for the competitors. He is less good in presenting the life and personality of Jeff Bezos who seems to belong in the category of somewhat pathological but driven and creative capitalists who has created a completely different enterprise. The paradox of Amazon that its share price does not seem the react at all to the normal indicators and that it has a licence to do things which would be fatal for most other firms does not, however, find a satisfactory explanation. Also the fact that Amazon survived the first IT-crash is interesting bot not really treated by Stone. Still the book is highly readable and gives good background for understanding what is happening with Amazon. The story of Amazon is still quite short and we cannot say how it will end. Especially when Bezos leaves the controls. My bet is that Amazon is only one stage in the development towards a more decentralized system. The worst part about Amazon is surely its treatment of the warehouse workers (as long as people are cheaper than machines, they are being exploited...)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book written about Amazon up until now, 29 Aug 2014
By 
Amitpal S. Aujla "Xylem" (London, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Kindle Edition)
The best book written about Amazon up until now. Brad Stone presents a great narrative that provides a clear understanding of how Amazon developed and where it is heading.

Jeff Bezos intends to literally develop the "the everything store" and make Amazon the go to place for both enterprise and consumer needs.
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