One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt

January 7, 2012

Summary (from the publisher): Amazon’s business model is deceptively simple: Make online shopping so easy and convenient that customers won’t think twice. It can almost be summed up by the button on every page: “Buy now with one click.”

Why has Amazon been so successful? Much of it has to do with Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder, whose unique combination of character traits and business strategy have driven Amazon to the top of the online retail world.

Richard Brandt charts Bezos’s rise from computer nerd to world- changing entrepreneur. His success can be credited to his forward-looking insights and ruthless business sense. Brandt explains:

  • Why Bezos decided to allow negative product reviews, correctly guessing that the earned trust would outweigh possible lost sales.
  • Why Amazon zealously guards some patents yet freely shares others.
  • Why Bezos called becoming profitable the “dumbest” thing they could do in 1997.
  • How Amazon.com became one of the only dotcoms to survive the bust of the early 2000s.
  • Where the company is headed next.

Through interviews with Amazon employees, competitors, and observers, Brandt has deciphered how Bezos makes decisions. The story of Amazon’s ongoing evolution is a case study in how to reinvent an entire industry, and one that anyone in business today ignores at their peril.

Liked:

  • This book gave a straightforward and mostly chronological (after the first chapter, anyway) account of how Amazon.com rose from humble beginnings to become the world’s largest retailer. It was a pretty amazing journey, even in this Internet age that produces billionaires practically overnight.
  • There was plenty of coverage given to Amazon’s business model and the various strategies the company used to expand and sustain growth through the early part of the last decade. I never really followed business news at that time (especially not for dot-coms), so a lot of the information in the book, while probably freely available online, was still new to me and had the added benefit of being compiled all in one place.
  • I feel like there was just the right amount of information presented. It was neither so much that it delved into dry business talk that left me bored, nor so little that I felt the need to do my own research to complete the picture.

Disliked:

  • The author wasn’t given access to Bezos despite numerous interview requests. While I can appreciate that this is hardly Brandt’s fault, it does detract from the book a bit. Yeah, yeah, there are plenty of other biographies or profiles where the subject wasn’t directly interviewed, but still… That’s just my personal feeling here.
  • The book could have done with more analysis from Brandt. He mostly just laid out the facts without really talking about the larger implications of what was happening.

Rating:

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt was a decent enough book for what it was: a brief, need-to-know look at how Bezos created Amazon.com and turned it into one of the most successful dot-coms still in existence. There’s not a whole lot of depth here, and most of the information can probably be found online, but instead of wading through Google for several days trying to come up with relevant articles, you can just pick up this book. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Leave a Reply