The tale of Amazon.com is well known to anyone who follows the stock market, the book business, the Internet explosion--heck, its hard to imagine not knowing at least a piece of this extraordinary story. But few, it would seem, know the entireMoreThe tale of Amazon.com is well known to anyone who follows the stock market, the book business, the Internet explosion--heck, its hard to imagine not knowing at least a piece of this extraordinary story.
But few, it would seem, know the entire story, and its these gaps that Robert Spectors Amazon.com: Get Big Fast attempts to fill (or at least the information available in early 2000, when the book was published). For example, those who know about Amazon.coms paradigm-shifting influence on the book business may not know it wasnt even the first online book retailer, or the second or the third. (It was preceded by clbooks.com, books.com, and wordsworth.com, the last of which beat Amazon.com to the Internet by almost two years.) Those whove heard quirky stories about Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos--for example, that he built his own desk out of a door, and that his mother bought the desk at an online charity auction in 1999 for $30,100--may not know that he was a studious overachiever from an early age.
As a 12-year-old in Houston, he was even profiled in a book on gifted education in Texas. And those who marvel at the companys multibillion-dollar stock valuation may not know that it was broke and nearly out of business in the summer of 95. Put it all together and you have a book that should be interesting to many different readers.
As a pure business read, it certainly provides a blow-by-blow account of an important companys critical decisions. And anyone looking for a brief history of e-commerce will see how one idea--Bezoss realization in 1994 that Web usage was growing 2,300 percent a year--set the entire online retailing phenomenon in motion. If nothing else, that last fact should propel parents to pay very careful attention to their kids math scores. Had Bezos, a summa cum laude Princeton grad in computer science, not realized the implications of exponential growth ...
well, lets just say you wouldnt be reading this review right now. --Lou Schuler