Amazon.com Get Big Fast

Robert Spector, Author
Robert Spector, Author HarperCollins Publishers $27 (263p) ISBN 978-0-06-662041-1
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos declined to be interviewed for this book, relates Spector, a journalist who has written for USA Today and UPI. But Bezos had nothing to fear. Spector has taken an extremely benign look at the so-called e-commerce success story, beginning with Bezos's career as an investment banker, passing through Amazon.com's early days in a dingy warehouse, the search for investor dollars, the company's transformation from a virtual to a physical entity, skirmishes in the marketplaces and the courts and, finally, the improbable expansion into other products (besides books) and countries. Sometimes chronological, sometimes topical, this comprehensive overview is filled with interesting trivia (e.g., the company initially protected itself against credit card theft by walking a floppy disk from one PC to another instead of transmitting information over the Net). Unfortunately, Spector writes with a glibness that leaves the reader wondering exactly what he means: ""Setting about to run a corporate culture from the ground up, Bezos focused on hiring the absolute best people he could find."" In other cases, he starts down a promising road but never brings us to the end; for example, he writes that ""in reality, in the quest to get big fast, the seemingly mild-mannered Bezos is a fierce, take-no-prisoners competitor,"" and proceeds to fuzzily document how Amazon gets closer to the consumer. Those looking for a quick primer on the growth of one of the world's most famous dot-coms will find this useful. Readers looking for a journalistically penetrating account, readers will be better served by the business press. (Apr)
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