The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
By Brad StonePublished by Bantam Press (£18.99)
No firm epitomises the boom-bust-boom technology cycle like online retailer Amazon. A darling of the 1990s tech bubble, its share price dived when the bust came in 2000.
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But it's gone on to become the 15th-largest listed firm in the US, and arguably the most feared retailer in the world, upturning business models everywhere with its cut-throat pricing and popularity with consumers.
Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon places Amazon's "evolution within the wider retail landscape and the technological revolution that was remaking the world at the turn of the millennium", says Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times.
It's well-researched Stone has conducted more than 300 interviews with serving and former staff, and drawn on past conversations with Bezos himself.
The story illustrates "the combination of hard work, intelligence, and old-fashioned dumb luck it takes to succeed in business", says Slate's Matthew Yglesias, with a significant part of the book devoted to how Amazon survived the dotcom crash by outsourcing its services to firms that wanted to build their own websites on the cheap.
Stone also grasps that Amazon's dominant position is due to its view that "long-term shareholder value is created by building long-term relationships with customers".
Yet while Stone is "clearly a believer", the book is no hagiography, says Bethany McLean in The Washington Post. "Bezos comes across as a polarising figure who has inspired many people but traumatised others." And it doesn't hide the fact that "Amazon has developed a reputation for incredible ruthlessness, stemming from its less-than-straightforward dealings with publishers".
This is one of the "more interesting strands" of the story, notes Jim Milliot in Publishers Weekly. While it may be "the most powerful and feared company in the book industry", Stone reminds us that Amazon was not always so disliked indeed, it was seen "as a potential counterbalance to the retail giants Barnes & Noble and Borders".
Also interesting is Amazon's clash with US state governments over sales tax. At one point it even drew up "colour-coded maps depicting states where its lawyers thought employees could travel safely".
In all, says Tim Appelo of the Hollywood Reporter, this is "a must-read as essential as Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs is for understanding Apple".
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone. Published by Bantam Press (£18.99).
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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