A cursory overview of the man behind Amazon.com.
As any bibliophile knows, the birth of Amazon in the mid ’90s represented both a blessing and a curse to everyone involved in the book industry, from authors and publishers to bookshops and readers. It was a blessing because more than 1 million titles, many rare and hard-to-find, were suddenly available to anyone with a modem and a credit card; a curse because man local mom-and-pop booksellers folded because they couldn’t compete with the deep discounts and extremely customer-friendly policies Amazon offered. Whether readers view Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos as an entrepreneurial genius or a ruthless capitalist, there’s no denying that Amazon has grown from a three-guys-in-a-garage operation to one of the most powerful and recognized e-commerce sites on the Internet. Brandt (The Google Guys, 2011, etc.), a reporter on all things Silicon Valley for the past 20-plus years, traces Amazon’s sometimes-rocky ascent by interviewing past employees, mentors and competitors of the site. He also mines Bezos’ speeches and interviews to determine the thought process of the man behind the empire. Unfortunately, the result is skeletal and unsatisfying, mainly because Brandt never actually interviewed Bezos directly. The source material is largely what Bezos has allowed into the public realm and seems carefully polished, much like the image of Amazon.com.
Suffices as a bare-bones account of a highly successful startup but fails to deliver on the inner workings of a website that changed e-commerce forever.