[Startup Story] The Everything Store (2013) book review

 

Pretty much everybody would know about Amazon.

It is so widespread, that even though Amazon’s service is not available in my country (as a home centre, I can still choose to ship overseas from Amazon in America), I’m awed by the options and convenience it brings.

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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

1-Sentence Summary. A brief history of how Jeff Bezos started Amazon (a.k.a the Everything Store) and how it grew into a life of its own, with stories extending beyond just about the company’s founder.

Why I Picked it Up. When I got this book, I have just recently enjoyed reading ‘Hatching Twitter’ by Nick Bilton (Biography about Twitter founders. Extremely juicy and sensational read. Recommended reading from me.) Hence, I was in the mood of reading tech startups’ biographies. The big Amazon’s history as a startup intrigued me a lot, especially when I compare to how successful it is now.

Where I Picked It Up. Big Bad Wolf Sale for RM12 (Dec 2015)

Why It’s A Gem

  • A MORE TRUTHFUL TAKE ON COMPANY’S SUCCESS STORIES. Although it acknowledges all the good things about Amazon, it doesn’t shy away from also shedding light on on the fact that Amazon’s success also relies on its ability to become an ‘evil’ corporation to a lot of people. The reason it can be up at the top, giving convenience to a lot of people was because it aggressively bullies certain parties into bowing down to Amazon’s terms and conditions. This book got me thinking that probably a lot of the convenience and affordable prices that we as customers get may be at the expense of certain parties/ suppliers being forced at a loss of income.
  • ENTERTAINING SNIPPETS OF UNIQUE STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF E-COMMERCE EMPLOYEES. It’s these little stories that are like golden nuggets to me, because reading is probably the nearest way I could get to a truthful glimpse of their life, which can sometimes be weird and hilarious. My favourite part was how the whole company’s operations were so affected by missing stocks of Jigglypuff plushies (I know, of all things?!), that they had to invest in major search efforts for it. When the workers did found the plushies, they were so grateful that they made 1 whole line of conga dance into their boss’ room, with the Jigglypuff plushies held high above their heads with pride. Only in Amazon can such things happen.
  • SHEDDING A REALISTIC LIGHT ON WORKING FOR A TECH STARTUP GENIUS – JEFF BEZOS. If there’s one thing that this book did for me is that it shatters the illusion of grandeur from working in a rapidly growing tech startup company under a visionary leader. It requires extremely high level of perseverance under this type of leader because they are usually difficult, stubborn and doesn’t have much empathy for their team’s overall wellbeing sometimes. Before you start thinking, “Oh, how awesome it is to work under this company,” you might want to have a read at this book first and then determine if you’ve got enough spirit to go through the extra difficulties it has.

 

Why It Can Be A Rock

  • LACK OF ACCOMPANYING PHOTOS. Just like most books, photos are usually only limited to the centrespread section of the book. But I wish that they could have more images in between their text. I don’t mind if it’s just black & white photos, I’d just love to have side-by-side images that I could quickly refer to in response to the book’s text, making the story richer. If Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants’ can do this, I really wish that more publishers could also follow through with this.

 


015897-yellow-comment-bubble-icon-animals-animal-panda3-sc37 (2)  As A Reading Panda,  I’d Give It :

bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1 (8 out of my 10 bamboos)

 

Aside from the slight comment on accompanying photos above, everything else about the book seems good. It was easy to read, had a good pacing, and most importantly – covering a variety of angles for our better understanding. We get bits of stories from a lot of different departments and districts of Amazon as a company, not just being limited to Jeff Bezos’story only.

The rating above is pretty high as it ticks all of the checkboxes on my needs when reading tech startup biographies. It’s just that the book didn’t ‘wow’ me off the waters to get higher points.

Even with that said, if you’re in the mood for interesting tech startup stories, this book will satisfy your cravings just fine.


 

Favourite Quotes   favourite-quotes-01

“When you are in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff. I knew when I was eighty that I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time. That kind of thing just isn’t something you worry about when you’re eighty years old.” – Jeff Bezos [pg 27]

“It’s one thing to have a good idea, but it’s another to have confidence in a person to execute it.” – Bob Gelfond (Amazon’s earlier investor) [pg 42]

As the earthquake progressed, Killalea poked his head out, retrieved his laptop, and checked to see if the Amazon website was still running. (He would win a Just Do It award and get to keep an old ratty sneaker for that bit of bravado). [pg 122]

“I’ve always had the opinion that we have shamelessly stolen any good ideas.” – Jim Sinegal (founder of Costco) [pg 124]

“It is far better to cannibalize yourself than have someone else do it.” – Diego Piacentini [pg 231]

 

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If there’s one thing in common that we have in common with Jeff Bezos, it’s probably our love for books. That’s how Amazon started in the first place. (Image Source: iDoneThis)
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