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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 21 January 2018
This has been on my kindle for ages, and I wish I read it before now. The book gives a fascinating insight into Amazon, not just the Amazon we know today but right back to the start of the business.

The author, Brad Stone, is a well respected US journalist with a strong pedigree in this arena, and with The Everything Store he really delivers. The book appears well researched with lots of rich history, from the amusing to the serious technical details, and introduces the reader to a lot of the key players in the business.

As a longtime Amazon user I thought I knew a lot about it, but it turns out that Amazon is like an iceberg and we only see a small percentage of the real company on the surface, the rest of the behemoth is under the surface, away from view.

This book is very readable, Stone has turned what could have been a quite dry subject into a fascinating read that keeps you turning the page. Some books in this genre are heavy going, but this one has just enough story-telling weaved through the cold facts to keep you interested to the end.

If you're interested in Amazon or the way that billion dollar businesses are built and run this will make for a great read which I highly recommend.
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on 20 April 2017
Great read. A fascinating story about Amazon, Jeff Bezos and the culture of the most successful company in the world. This is a great book, written in a witty way. Real pleasure to read.

It talks about the beginning of the small internet bookstore and how it became the biggest internet ecommerce company in the world, its leadership, philosophy of its founder. You can learn a lot how to setup up and run a successful business. It explains why Amazon was destined for success.

It is a must read if you want to understand how Amazon became the biggest company and Jeff B one of the most powerful men on the planet.
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on 5 February 2014
There has been heaps of information in the media about Amazon over the past two decades. I have been remiss in not reading much of it at all. Consequently, I though this book would fill me in on the main threads and events on the life of a huge global force in retail and technology. On this front, I have not been disappointed.

The book is fairly well researched, but does suffer from chronology problems. I think this is due to the selection of the chapters. The end result is that there is quite bit of repetition and is sluggish in parts. The storyline does dovetail broadly over the firm's life but is insufficiently linear to build a good rhythm and momentum for the reader. That said, for someone of limited knowledge on the subject (like me) it was tolerable. For Amazon buffs, this may be a problem.

I found the criticism to be fairly balanced in also highlighting quirky management styles, testosterone, ruthless negotiating, threats to staff that left of their own free will and the financial stinginess. Bezos, was depicted as an intelligent, eccentric, driven, relentless innovator, with enormous dreams. His ego too is not spared criticism, yet the Writer's terms both missionary and mercenary seem most apt.

I would have liked more insights into the thinking and the strategy of the technical heads regards their development and evolving of their information strategy and data mining. (if possible of course) The brains trust that created a computer software network that was sold or rented to big clients intrigues me. Also, the 'scorched earth' style pricing strategy to clear competition and win market supremacy is controversial and would have created many enemies.

Only passing paragraphs are given to companies bought, sold and dumped. Many mistakes were made on the way and the shareholders were notoriously forgiving. Bezos certainly was mooted to have the Midas touch even when losses were relentless.

The book is not sordid or tacky, venting needless gossip. It also doesn't go into depth, as I mentioned earlier, so as a first step into finding out about Bezos, the consumer strategist - this is a book I liked and recommend.
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on 23 August 2017
It’s a lesson in self-belief and one man’s conviction in pursuit of The Everything Store, his dream, tenacious, ingenious, at times over-bearing but never dull. Amazon an JB are synonymous there couldn’t be one without the other it is a colossal achievement worthy of the highest quality in the spirit of man and something we should all be proud of, and it's thanks to Brad Stone and his remarkable and enjoyable book that we can. Didn’t he do well!
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on 20 August 2015
Read this book while I was working at Amazon and it was a perfect introduction to the company culture and ethos. Although not entirely aligned with the experience I had, learning more about how it grew and the conviction to put customers first made me better understand the startup and innovative culture in the company. While some parts were portrayed Bezos as an unscrupulous businessman and boss, squeezing everyone in the supply chain and Amazon internally to keep prices low, it is honestly that brutal competitiveness that has allowed consumers to achieve the level of value and service quality that is demanded industry-wide today.

I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneur or business person looking to formulate strategies to launch innovative products and differentiate their company from the rest. Amazon has transformed commerce in this age, and regardless of the good or bad that this has brought, it is definitely worth a look to better understand what has made it into the company it is today.
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on 11 October 2017
I read this and 'Let My People Go Surfing' by Yvon Chouinard in quick succession and was very surprised at the polar opposite mission and work ethic between Amazon and Patagonia.

Made for very interesting reading, and gives a real insight into the cut throat and dog-eat-dog world of American corporations. You have to hand it to Bezos - he's made a giant of a company, but it's very interesting to read how he did it with an unwavering attitude and drive to provide Amazon customers the best possible price, but at times bullying tactics once his company became a market force.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2014
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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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 16 December 2015
Fascinating book, Amazon is such a behemoth, it's very interesting to find out how it all started. I haven't finished it yet (about 1/3 of the way through) but there is so much I had no idea about. The other people, the background, how certain people came and then left. Intriguing book, and highly recommended if you've ever used Amazon :)
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