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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2014
Grab an armful of business leadership books from your nearest bookshop and look through them for advice on how to treat staff. I doubt you'll find any of them encouraging business leaders to humiliate their colleagues in public more frequently.

Yet one of the most memorable stories in Brad Stone's account of how Jeff Bezos made such a success of Amazon is just such an encounter with a senior manager. They were giving answers that Bezos did not believe about the speed with which the phones were being answered by the customer service team. So in the middle of a meeting with senior managers, Bezos put a phone on loudspeaker, dialed Amazon's customer service number and started ostentatiously timing how long it took to be answered. He'd been told that calls were being answered in less than a minute, but the meeting had to sit in excruciating silence as the minutes ticked up before finally the phone was answered.

A devastatingly effective way of making a point, true. But how do you combine such a brutish attitude at times with an ability to recruit, retain and motivate the sort of brilliant staff you need, especially when Amazon wasn't paying high wages? The mystery is deepened by the grimly humorous collection of stories of other technology CEOs and their abrasive behaviour that Brad Stone presents in the book.

As with Steve Jobs, reading about Jeff Bezos and all his quirks in dealing with other human beings (not to mention Amazon's huge sums spent on failed takeovers) leaves you wondering for much of the time if you're reading an account of a brilliant success or a tragic failure. Clearly the path Amazon has taken shows he - like Jobs - is the former.

But whilst Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs does answer the question of how Jobs and Apple ended up so successful despite his manner, in the case of Bezos and Amazon, Brad Stone leaves that question only partly answered. Early on in the book Amazon is but one amongst many online book selling startups. Stone explains well why traditional bookselling firms found it difficult to move into the online business, constrained as they were by their heavy investment in offline stores. Why, though, did Amazon triumph from all those different online startups? That Stone doesn't tell us.

The more successful Amazon gets, the better Stone's book does explain its gathering momentum, especially thanks to Bezos's insistence on using Amazon's scale to drive prices as low as possible. There are two types of company, Bezos says. Those that looks to charge as high a price as possible (think Apple) and those that look to charge as low a price as possible (think Amazon). Amazon's low prices may have kept its profits down, but they have hugely boosted its size and, while Apple's high margins have attracted big competitors eating into its market, Amazon's low margins have kept competitors out of the market, leaving more space for it to grow even further.

It's a shame though that the initial crucial breakthrough remains unexplained even by the end of an enjoyable book.
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on 15 February 2017
Great read! Reinforces what we all know about Amazon, some interesting insights into an amazing and now diverse business. Whether you love or loathe Amazon, you have to respect Jeff Bezos and the company that he and so many hard working individuals have created.
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on 5 June 2017
If you want to to know about Amazon this is a good place to start.
A man with an eye for the future and a brilliant mind realised that a 2000% increase in Internet growth was something that needed to be captured and Jeff Bezos was the man to do it.
A good read.
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on 22 January 2017
This book has been out a while by now. It is very easy to read and it tells an interesting story, obviously.
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on 27 January 2017
Long but worthwhile read on a man we all :) ave an opinion of. Am I a satisfied customer - yes 😀
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on 8 August 2017
I've always known that Amazon were a force of their own but learning about the back story took it to a whole other level. Can't say that I agree with all the decisions and how they went about doing certain things (then again, what do I know?) but I do think that Jeff Bezos is a great leader.
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on 12 August 2017
To be honest I got bored after about 40% too many names, hard to keep track and it jumps back and forward the timeline. I may go back to it but not at the moment.
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on 15 May 2017
A story of amazons development.
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on 21 August 2015
Amazon is becoming so big and so present in our day to day lives that this book end up a must read. The way Amazon grew over the years is incredible and far from conventional, following some tough lessons learned from other stores and new ones created by Jeff Bezos. Have a good read!
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on 1 March 2015
This is an amazing book and I could not put it down. It was very well written and was at times, quite funny. I mean, Jeff's "nutters", are priceless.
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