Customer Reviews for

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Readable Bio; Short on Analysis

    One Click is slightly tricky to review in that, it mostly succeeds in what the author set out to do (if not exactly what the jacket copy promises): delivering a quick, readable bio of businessman/computer wunderkind Jeff Bezos. Certainly the polymathic and influential Bezos is worthy of study. The guy is clearly a brilliant standout in at least two highly competitive arenas: business and computers. But from my vantage point, and I suspect for most readers, that's not enough--especially (ironically in light of the internet information explosion of which Amazon is at the vanguard. That is, basic information such as Amazon's corporate history and product developments are readily available on sites like Wikipedia (and by following Wikipedia links). In fairness to the author, he does cover considerably more ground than you can easily pick up online and he does weave the JB story into a well-flowing narrative, so I got value from the book. But he left so many stones unturned, I ended up feeling frustrated. Here's one that quickly and obviously comes to mind: Amazon is dominating the publishing business like no one has since the owner of the first printing press started operations. Obviously, that's a deliberately dramatic statement, but there are serious issues concerning Amazon's dominance of books, the lifeblood of intellectual culture. This is especially true in light of the rise of the Kindle and their new forays into publishing. Amazon has shown it will play hardball with publishers and vendors, though typically very subtly (such as removing "Buy" or "One-Click" purchase options) so as not to come off as a bully to the public. But will their overwhelming dominance allow them to act as outright censors or, more likely, subtle censors that direct customers to buy their books leaving other publishers struggling? Or I've read that they may publish books from prominent authors and not let them be sold on other websites. Bestselling author and lawyer Scott Turow, who is the president of the Author's Guild, has dubbed Amazon the Darth Vader of publishing and says they should be subject to anti-trust legislation [presumably Amazon let me quote Turow and not bury this review?]. I don't know enough about legal issues or monopolies to have an opinion about monopoly legislation, but it's certainly opens interesting questions to explore. But nada. There is no discussion on this topic. This lack of analysis applies pretty much across the board. Brandt doesn't examine whether Bezos's "sprint ahead; profit later" tactics are a viable approach for most businesses or only for those with a genius at the helm with access to lots of capital. I suspect many of Bezos' business strategies are uniquely suited to him, but it would have been nice to explored that issue or at least some similar kind of avenues. The list of unexplored questions could go on for quite a while, but you get the idea.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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