Book Review: The Everything Store

I’ve been reading a selection of books about the wave of technology companies dominating our landscape, mostly as a way to better understand how they came to be and who are the people behind the ideas. So, Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon fit that theme nicely.

Amazon (or should I say Amazon.com, as the company always insists?) is an amazing story of one man, with a grand idea, who is slowly but methodically enacting his vision of a one-stop online store for anything. Jeff Bezos and his organization is also characterized as being pretty ruthless in its practices, using its power to wield more power against smaller and bigger companies, at least according to Stone. It sees a market. It takes the market.

I won’t go through a full review of Stone’s book here, except to notice on interesting thing, as a writer and a teacher of writing. ¬†(And to note, Stone has come under fire by Amazon folks for way he describes the company, but I found it pretty balanced in both praise and criticism.)

There is an intriguing section in the book where Bezos orders an edict to his managers: no more Powerpoints in meetings. Instead, Bezos requires all of his managers to write narratives of their plans for their divisions, and each meeting starts out with a shared reading of those narratives. Stone says that Bezos believes that writing is a way of thinking, while Powerpoint is a glossed-over version of explanation. The reaction from his staff is mixed and miffed, now that they had to recall all of the writing skills they learned back in school for real life.

You think Bezos ever attended a National Writing Project Summer Institute?

Even if you don’t admire Amazon for its size and scope, or maybe even Bezos for way he runs his company, you have to admire him for understanding the potential of an idea, and to put it down into writing as a way to better understand it.

Peace (in the store),
Kevin

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