The author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon returns with a follow-up on one of the world's largest retailers, exploring Amazon's unprecedented growth and its billionaire founder.
... fascinating and deeply researched ... Stone is at his best describing Bezos’s demanding style of management ... As he concludes his masterful book, 'Whatever you think about the company—and the man—that controls so much of our economic reality in the third decade of the twenty-first century, there is no turning back now.'
Amazon Unbound is particularly valuable in explaining how the company makes money, and the day-to-day decisions that end up having a big effect on consumers: Is it worth it, for example, to sell pallets of bottled water, with their low cost and expensive shipping? ... I was, though, left wishing at times for a...book that made a tighter connection between the inside of the juggernaut and its effects on the world ... Significantly, the book is also very much a biography of Bezos. And that makes it timely at a moment when our economy is dominated by giant firms headed by a small handful of men, whose personalities and whims we need to understand whether we like it or not ... As biography, the book is both limited and perhaps strengthened by the fact that Stone has lost his former access to Bezos ... It’s safe to say that Amazon Unbound does suffer at times from a lack of psychological insight into Bezos. But it benefits from the author’s distance, and makes for a dense, at times juicy tour of the company Bezos built.
Stone has produced a readable and comprehensive account of Amazon’s journey. The book will no doubt be enthralling to budding entrepreneurs who view men such as Bezos as masters of the universe. Yet I wanted to hear more about the victims of the 'toxicity' alluded to by Bray: the warehouse workers and small business sellers; the high street retailers and small companies ruined by Amazon’s unfair competition, due to the low rates of tax it pays and its near monopoly over online trade. These stories do feature in Stone’s book, yet they are dwarfed by quotes from sycophantic hangers-on and page after page of turgid minutiae, written in faintly admiring tones, documenting Bezos’s business acumen ... Bezos is a visionary who has built an impressive business empire. He has hooked us on the convenience of ordering at home. Yet Stone gets sucked in by the 'mystical aura of invincibility' that he attributes to Bezos. He falls victim to the temperamental inclination, once remarked on by Adam Smith, for us humans to be 'admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness' ... this is a great story. But I wanted the truth — unbound but also unvarnished.