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One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com Hardcover – October 27, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Management Today:
"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


“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. Visit richardbrandt.com
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; first edition (October 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781591843757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843757
  • ASIN: 1591843758
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By 🎭 FreeSpirit TOP 50 REVIEWER on 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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Format: Hardcover
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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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 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...
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Format: Hardcover
'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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