Book Review | The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone was a great read. Loved the irony of reading a book that I purchased from Amazon that followed the plan that Bezos crafted when he assumed that one day everything would be for sale on his website. Everyone has their stories about the COVID-19 pandemic. We were all stuck at home and trying to figure out what to do. Of course that meant idle time for scrolling the internet and purchasing things on Amazon. With Amazon you can usually get most things within 48 hours. In fact, I’ve ordered things in the late evening and often received them the next morning. At one point in the late spring of 2020, I went to order something on Amazon and noted that it could take up to 3 weeks to arrive. That was the moment I knew that we were living in different days!

This book was interesting. Some of the stories I’ve heard before and some of the things were new. Amazon is clearly a huge piece of the cultural story of this season in world history and it was cool to hear how it all got rolling.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • There is so much stuff that has yet to be invented. There’s so much new that’s going to happen. People don’t have any idea yet how impactful the Internet is going to be and that this is still Day 1 in such a big way. Jeff Bezos Page: 9               
  • The goal of this book is to tell the story behind one of the greatest entrepreneurial successes since Sam Walton flew his two-seat turboprop across the American South to scope out prospective Walmart store sites. It’s the tale of how one gifted child grew into an extraordinarily driven and versatile CEO and how he, his family, and his colleagues bet heavily on a revolutionary network called the Internet, and on the grandiose vision of a single store that sells everything.  Page: 14             
  • In many ways, the introduction of Amazon Prime was an act of faith. The company had little concrete idea how the program would affect orders or customers’ likelihood to shop in other categories beyond media. If each expedited shipment cost the company $8, and if a shipping-club member placed twenty orders a year, it would cost the company $160 in shipping, far above the $79 fee. The service was expensive to run, and there was no clear way to break even. “We made this decision even though every single financial analysis said we were completely crazy to give two-day shipping for free,” says Diego Piacentini.  Page: 187             
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. Christensen wrote that great companies fail not because they want to avoid disruptive change but because they are reluctant to embrace promising new markets that might undermine their traditional businesses and that do not appear to satisfy their short-term growth requirements. Sears, for example, failed to move from department stores to discount retailing; IBM couldn’t shift from mainframe to minicomputers. The companies that solved the innovator’s dilemma, Christensen wrote, succeeded when they “set up autonomous organizations charged with building new and independent businesses around the disruptive technology.”9    Page: 234           
  • Over the next few years, Dalzell (Bezos’ longtime right hand man) watched Amazon from afar and marveled at how Bezos turned himself into one of the world’s most admired corporate chiefs. “Jeff does a couple of things better than anyone I’ve ever worked for,” Dalzell says. “He embraces the truth. A lot of people talk about the truth, but they don’t engage their decision-making around the best truth at the time. “The second thing is that he is not tethered by conventional thinking. What is amazing to me is that he is bound only by the laws of physics. He can’t change those. Everything else he views as open to discussion.”  Page: 267             

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