"One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com."
... does it make Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, the Edison or Bell of today? The answers come in Richard Brandt's enjoyable book, One Click.
... a good story told well. If you want to understand the Bezos phenomenon, this is an easy and efficient way to do it
About the Author
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More About the Author
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 CNBC.com, 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
It is, at best, a high level overview of 'stuff' around the growth of Amazon.com. 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 Amazon.com", 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...
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Since I read the Everything Store, this is a similar book that tries to draw lessons from Jeff management and progress. Overall okay, less detailed than one mentioned.Published 27 days ago by Yen Vu
Great book. Couldn't allow myself to put it down - well except to sleep and work.Published 1 month ago by Jon Williams
Amazon definitely has changed the way we shopping and literally changed the landscape of Seattle City. From this book, I have a glance of where Jeff Bezos and Amazon comes from. Read morePublished 1 month ago by kiki
Great story of Jeff Bezos and how Amazon came to be. Really goes through the details in the decision making of Bezos and how the company has evolved from its first conception to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by kyle love
Great book - learn more about Amazon and what makes them click (pun intended)Published 1 month ago by Matrix2020
A fascinating view at the life of Jeff Bezos. I couldn't put the book down. I am a huge Amazon fan, and the book explains the origins of their great customer service culture. Read morePublished 2 months ago by MovieGeorge
It gives a good overview of Amazon's saga but sometimes it is close to simplistic in its interpretations. Still a satisfactory narrative of one of the leading tech companies.Published 4 months ago by charles Yamamura
This breezy biography of Jeff Bezos and the company he founded, Amazon.com, is a short introduction to the man and his idea of revolutionizing the way the world and the marketplace... Read morePublished 5 months ago by David W. Southworth