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One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of [Kindle Edition]

Richard L. Brandt
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Amazon’s business model is deceptively simple: Make online shopping so easy and convenient that customers won’t think twice. It almost can be summed up by the button on every page: “Buy now with one click.”

Why has Amazon been so successful? Much of it has to do with Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO, whose unique combination of character traits and business strategy has driven Amazon to the top of the online retail world. Richard Brandt charts Bezos’s rise from computer nerd to world-changing entrepreneur.

Through interviews with Amazon employees, competitors, and observers, Brandt has deciphered how Bezos makes decisions. The story of Amazon’s ongoing evolution is a case study in how to reinvent an entire industry, and one that businesses today ignore at their peril.

Editorial Reviews


“Richard Brandt compellingly profiles one of the greatest Internet executives of the era.”
Stephen Leeb, author of The Oil Factor and Red Alert

“Brandt is an award-winning magazine writer and he has the classic U.S. journalist’s approach—meticulously researched and with breathless, pithy commentary . . . a good story well told. If you want to understand the Bezos phenomenon, this is an easy and efficient way to do it—just like shopping on Amazon.”
—Management Today

About the Author

Richard L. Brandt is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about Silicon Valley for more than two decades. He is well known throughout the technology community as a former correspondent for BusinessWeek, where he won a National Magazine Award. He lives in San Francisco.

Product Details

  • File Size: 291 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670920665
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (October 27, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IYIUS8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,847 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a good book, but falls short on depth October 31, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I guess it really depends on how much you already know about Jeff Bezos and the history of Amazon - that will probably determine whether you enjoy the book, IMHO. I knew very little, so I got a good, quick oversight into Jeff Bezos as a businessman, and into Amazon's early days. It discusses his strengths and questions his weaknesses as a business leader quite extensively. The traits that made him successful are probably his acute decision making abilities (why he chose books instead of CDs at first, why Seattle over CA, etc), long-term perspective, and a unique ability to execute decisions to precision.

Both sides of Amazon's book business - customers who want lower prices, and publishers who want to keep authors in business, are discussed at length. Amazon may have been portrayed, willingly or unwillingly, in a poor light here. I think Amazon is doing what is right by their customers and what any business would do in order to keep a competitive edge in the marketplace. It's a free market economy and any company is welcome to step in and help publishers get a higher price if they are able to do so - Amazon is not stopping them. There are two sides to the debate, both sides with their own merits, but I think the author spends more time on Amazon's ruthless negotiations with publication houses.

While there is lengthy discussion about the early days of Amazon, the ongoing battles with publishers, and Blue Origin, not much has been discussed about the current market Amazon is operating in and its projected path forward. Cloud computing, for example, is discussed only fleetingly.

The book reveals nothing new in itself, except maybe the early years of Bezos that I wasn't familiar with.
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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and Lazily Written January 7, 2012
I worked at Amazon for several years and have quite a lot of respect for the company and Bezos. This book doesn't do either justice. It's a tiny, large-margin book that has hardly anything you couldn't find by looking over a handful of shallow old Time magazine articles. Only a few people are interviewed, and hardly any information is given about what it's really like being in the company. The first thing I did when I got the book was to look in the index for the names of influential people I knew. Almost none of them was mentioned. Instead, the book quotes a couple early contributors repeatedly and then rehashes well-known stories. Even the quotes from the couple people I mentioned are so lacking in insight that I wonder whether they come from quickly written e-mails responses instead of face-to-face interviews. This reads to me like something rattled off in a week with hardly any research. I want to compare it to 'In the Plex' which is a terrific book about Google. The author of that book spent a huge amount of time in the company, had access to numerous important past and present employees, and gave you a great sense for Google's history and what it's like to work there. 'One Click' is a lazily written book that offers no insights, no new information, and pretty bad writing. I hope someone does a better job with this story someday.
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57 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Bio. Very high level, lightly insightful book October 29, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book came recommended along side Isaacson's Steve Jobs. This is NOT, by any means, a biography, or ANYWHERE CLOSE to the level of insight Isaacson puts in to his book. The only reason this book receives 2 stars, and not 1, is that it does not claim to be a bio.

It is, at best, a high level overview of 'stuff' around the growth of It jumps back and forth, and doesn't provide any in-depth analysis or research. In addition, it seems that the book is based completely on secondary research. It doesn't appear that any more than a handful of people directly participated in any form of primary research for the book, and pretty much all the quotes by Bezos were from the public domain.

If the author was talking about the "rise of", a more 'timeline'-based approach would have been good to have. The book jumps around a fair bit, and really doesn't get into anything in any level of detail.

To sum this book - "Bezos is ambitious. He started with books. He made a loss. The markets crashed. He focused on profits. He got into other areas. He invested in technology. He's a geek. His quarterly earnings are as follows (some basic numbers), he loves space travel." That's pretty much it, IMO. Since I got it from the Kindle Store, I cannot even resell it...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Interesting, but Overly Shallow January 17, 2012
'One Click' provides background on Amazon's early history; unfortunately, it is not nearly complete enough to qualify as a 'good history.'

Jeff Bezos was a good student in high school, and graduated from Princeton with majors in electrical engineering and computer science. When selecting a business to start he considered books ($19 billion wold in 1994, vs. only $7 billion in software, of which $2 billion was from Microsoft - a company that probably wouldn't allow much profits. Barnes and Nobles, and Borders held 25% of the book business - their stores held a maximum of 175,000 titles. Small bookstores held 21% of the market, and the rest were sold by supermarkets, etc. There are two major book distributors, each with warehouses holding about 400,000 titles.

Bezos liked the name 'Amazon' - is early in the alphabet, easy to spell, and represented a mighty river. He began with less than $200,000 - mostly funds from his relatives. He chose Oracle's database management system, along with free UNIX and AT&T's data-base-management software. His general strategy was to be conservative in estimating shipping dates so as to not disappoint. It took about a year to create a web site; Amazon launched 7/95, and started with about 6 orders/day. Fortunately, neither Barnes and Noble nor Borders had web sites at the time. By October, volume was up to 100 sales/day, and in less than a year, 100/hour. It's 1997 IPO was valued at $429 million. (It now is about $82 billion.)

Early Amazon customer service representatives were given options for 100 shares after three years. The best could answer 12 emails/minute, those dropping below 7 were often fired. Prior to this they took a three-week course to learn how everything worked. My guess is that very few, if any, lasted the three years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great biography
This has been a very enlightening book about and it's founder Jeff Bezos.
Published 6 days ago by Jerry Reddekopp
4.0 out of 5 stars if you think of a company like IBM, you sometimes wonder
A decent foray into the world of Jeff Bezos an introduction to the early era of A lot of us take for granted the convenience that exists from ordering books online and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great read
Published 1 month ago by Jim Monroe
4.0 out of 5 stars Crisp insight into Amazon without the boring trivia
I have been looking to read a book on Amazon for a longtime now. The problem with most books on technology companies is that they try to recap every day and step that the company... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Balasubramanian
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A great approach to the growing digital economy industry.
Published 3 months ago by Sergio Ortiz
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book - Look forward to the follow up.
Good book! Although it contains a lot of already known facts, it does string the history of Amazon (and Jeff Bezos) in a very easy and quick read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jorge Pereira
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good summary of the Jeff and his exp in starting Amazon.
Published 3 months ago by Vijay N S
2.0 out of 5 stars superficial
Not very in depth. Jumps from 2002 until 2007. Very cheesy writing. It is a very quick read. Must be better amazon books out there.
Published 4 months ago by MikeL
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great if you want to understand where Amazon came from.
Published 4 months ago by James S. Tibbetts
3.0 out of 5 stars this simile is like...
I enjoyed a lot of the information in this book. But the three star rating is for some of the sloppy writing and barely hidden biases. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

I have over 20 years' experience writing about science, technology and business, currently a freelance journalist and book author. My most recent book is "One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of (Portfolio/Penguin, October 27, 2011.) It's the story of how Jeff Bezos got started, his impact on retailers, and what he's like as an entrepreneur and a manager (tough!) I'm also author of "Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain" (Portfolio/Penguin, 2009) which was released in paperback as "The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Larry Page and Sergey Brin." (Do you know how few people recognize the names "Larry and Sergey" without additional info? We found out.) I'm also co-author of "Capital Instincts: Life as an Entrepreneur, Financier and Athlete" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003.)

Having written two books in which the subjects would not give me interviews (interesting that the founder of a book-selling site does not give interviews for books) and one book in which the subject had too much control over the manuscript, my next book will be one in which I have direct access to the subject AND complete control over the content.

Not that it's impossible to write a biography without the cooperation of the subject -- it just takes a lot of research and interviews with people who know him or her well -- but I want to be able to really dig into the psyche of the subject. I'd like to ask Jeff Bezos, for example, why he never gives interviews any more unless he hits the talk shows with a product to sell, like a movie star hawking his new picture. I'd like to draw Larry and Sergey into a thoughtful discussion of privacy issues, their deep thoughts on the importance of Web search engines with honest results and how they maintain it.

Executives at public companies whose policies create controversy should get out into the world and explain themselves. They shape our society and affect our lives. I mean, come on! I've interviewed Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, scientists and top academics extensively over the years, and I don't do hatchet jobs.

Still, the book of which I'm most proud is "The Google Guys." I spent four years on it, off and on, most often on. One blogger claimed it was a hagiography, but that's just because I refuse to attack Larry and Sergey simply because that's a popular thing to do these days. I stand behind everything in the book. Most of the reviews were terrific.

Before the internet (temporarily) destroyed the business of journalism, I was editor-in-chief and columnist for technology/business magazine Upside from 1995 to 2001. From 1981 to 1995 I was a technology correspondent for Business Week Magazine. My freelance articles have appeared in, L'Express, Science magazine, Technology Review, Science/Business magazine, Stanford magazine and Working Woman. The Wall Street Journal did an excerpt of "One Click."

My awards include a National Magazine Award, Deadline Club Award; Washington Monthly Award; Atlantic Monthly Award; Computer Press Association Award; Acer/Boston Computer Museum Awards; I was a Knight Science and Technology Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991, and a Science Journalism Fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1981. I've been a speaker on programs for BBC, CNN, NPR and industry events.

I studied engineering and journalism at the University of Delaware, received a BA in biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and studied mathematics at Harvey Mudd college.

I live in San Francisco with my wife and daughter, dog and two cats. My hobbies include carpentry, ocean kayaking, scuba diving, gardening and running. I re-roofed my own house.

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Kindle Prices
Why is it so hard for some people to understand that the prices on the Kindle are set BY THE PUBLISHER? Amazon has noted that time and again. Yell at the publisher, not at Amazon.
Nov 3, 2011 by citizen fact checker |  See all 6 posts
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