The incredible rise of Amazon from scrappy online bookseller to the fastest growing name in retail can mostly be credited to one man: CEO Jeff Bezos. We’ll talk to Brad Stone, author of the new book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.” In it he chronicles Amazon’s meteoric upsurge and the man behind it. We’ll discuss Bezos, his business acumen, and what his recent acquisition of the Washington Post means for the media landscape.

Brad Stone, author of "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon;" and senior writer at Businessweek


    Amazon depends upon poorly treated employees and mistreated sellers.
    No innovation here.
    Its sad that whenever the internet is discussed, its all about “profits”, sales. deals … etc.
    Every page flooded with ads , searches for anything populated by” results” trying to sell something related to keyword … yuck
    The new millennial “holidays” have become black friday, brown saturday, cyber monday ……

    • Robert Thomas

      In the journalist-o-sphere, “technology” means P.R., sales, finance and marketing. If you attend a School of Communications, these are the only dimensions of reality comprehendible.

      What SF media calls “technology” are marketeers procuring users to sell to advertisers, which are their customers.

      Amazon is a well-operated web site and retail portal. It’s not a technology company.
      Twitter is not a technology company.
      Facebook is not a technology company.
      Google is not a technology company (though it has has created some technology).

      Molex is a technology company.
      JDS Uniphase is a technology company.
      Gennum is a technology company.
      Sanmina is a technology company (printed circuits).
      Linear Technology is a (guess what?) technology company.

      The operations of businesses such as these latter are beyond the intellectual capacity of essentially any journalist.

      • Bob Fry

        This is a bit harsh. I’d certainly count Google as a tech company; its technology drives its primary revenue, internet ads. Its main focus, of course, is software, and it is excellent in that field.

        Apple is tech and marketing, and does very well at both.

        As for journalists, well, like any field of endeavor you have your 10% utterly incompetent, 10% truly excellent, and 80% just doing their job.

        • Robert Thomas

          Each might have his or her own measure, I agree.

          Google has produced some real, innovative technology, as I allowed; I’ve participated in a couple of thin slices of it and it’s admirable. But it’s a tiny fraction of their enormous operations. I think that Procter & Gamble routinely produces more technological advances annually, than Google ever has.

          Even so, Google develops more technology than Apple. Apple makes very fine electronically-based products and some few admirable software products. Their electronic product quality is high, reflected of course in their relatively high prices. Apple invests in fine industrial design, though my observation is that it cribs *substantially* from the forty-year-old designs of Bang & Olufsen. In 1992, I toured the recently-mothballed NeXT factory on Warm Springs in Fremont and was astounded by the facility – it was beautiful. I had a NeXT cube on my desk for a couple of months and took it apart and put it back together several times. It, too, was a beautiful thing, physically. As a computer, it worked somewhat less well (before I disassembled it!). So, I’ve had a taste of what Jobs’s teams can do and it is impressive. What the public sees is ordinary manufacturing, by comparison.

          I like my MacBook and Mach is pretty good. But it’s just fiddling with Unix, which is forty years old.

        • Robert Thomas

          I thought more about your response. I’m often unsatisfied with the work of journalists and their work is like you say – variable.

          But what I meant above is that IMDISQUSTED’s lament that everything in the popular media about the internet concerns its commercial use is shared; how that’s the only aspect available to the press. It’s because ANY other aspect is intellectually beyond them.

          Look – it’s intellectually beyond me, too. I understand only a little of what goes on in my own industry. I can’t expect journalists to understand it. Journalists are just regular people who have above-average language skills.

          What I find frustrating (and others do as well) is the *reduction* of an industry to nothing more than its base commercial aspect and nothing more. That skewed reduction is what is wearying and dismaying.

  • Livegreen

    Amazon depends on undercutting smaller retailers by selling at a loss. This use to be illegal but the Feds have stood by and not enforced these anti-competitive laws.

    We haven’t even started talking about the social or environmental impact of race to the bottom pricing. Thanks for promoting “price-only matters” shopping, and not asking hard questions. (If you have, prey tell us what they are?)

  • Robert Thomas

    Since the author has so far said nothing interesting or insightful, I might as well point out that “exploitive” is not a word.

  • Kate Keller-Kriozere

    My parents ran a small retail business for 37 years, and Amazon killed it. Amazon intentionally underprices small retailers, selling at unsustainable prices for just long enough to drive other sellers out of business, then they hike prices back up once they are the only game in town.

    The company also actively encourages customers to look at products in brick and mortar stores then buy from Amazon via their tag scanning apps. This is crushing for small retailers who bear the cost of the space and staff time but who see none of the profits of a purchase.

    If you like having small independent retailers in your town, for god sake, quit buying from amazon.

    • Another Mike

      Brick and mortar stores offer instant gratification. I am willing to pay extra if I can walk out of the store with what I want, when I want. But more and more often, the retail trend to pruning SKUs (prime example, Costco) means I have to take what people choose to stock, not what I need. So I find myself going on line more and more.

  • Another Mike

    We started ordering from Amazon to get books that were flat not available in Bay Area stores. My wife would read about something, we’d try Stacey’s, or A Clean Well Lighted Place, or Books, Inc., but no luck. (The best bookstore in the South Bay was actually the Stanford University store, but that was out of our way.)

    Children’s books were the least available. While Chanticleer existed in Los Gatos, we could find a lot of things there. At the time Hicklebee’s selection was smaller than it is now.

    Borders brought a lot of variety to the Bay Area bookstores, most notably their fishing and hunting section, shunned by the BA natives.

    • Terri Moss

      Another Mike, I always support independent book stores. If they don’t carry a book, they always offer to special order it for me. My experience is that the stores you listed would do the same.

      • Another Mike

        My general experience with special ordering things is that the stores take my money, and I never receive the item.

        If I can’t walk out of the store with the item, I go through someone whose business is mail order.

        • Terri Moss

          When I’ve ordered a book, I never pay in advance, only when I receive a book. Sounds like you haven’t shopped at reputable stores. Sorry to hear you’ve had such bad experience. There are disreputable online retailers as well as brick and mortar retailers.

          • Another Mike

            The ones I went to didn’t have robust processes for special orders, whereas special orders is all that mail order outfits do.

  • Bill

    When will Amazon become profitable? The price/earnings ratio is currently 1,425!

  • Nancy Harrington

    Two great advantages for Amazon: very helpful for people with physical disabilities for whom traditional shopping is difficult or impossible. Also a great advantage for sending gifts to people in other countries without having to pay exorbitant postal rates.

  • tb

    In searching for a blanket, when I typed in “blanket” in the search section to my horror, numerous fur pelt blanket popped up – I sorted highest price to lowest price. I emailed them and told them that I wouldn’t shop from them until they stopped selling fur.

    • Another Mike

      I tried just typing “blanket” — I got micro fleece and flannel. Some so-called mink blankets were made of 100% acrylic.

      Edit: OK, I just tried searching on different blankets, and got nothing made of fur.

  • Ehkzu

    Amazon pricing isn’t the only thing. Amazon support for reader reviews are a significant factor in driving customers to Amazon, just as Yelp reviews drive customers to the better local retailers.

    Originally buyers might go to local stores to see the products, then buy from Amazon. But now customers often read Amazon reader reviews, then go to local stores–especially since Amazon now charges sales tax.

    Alternatives to Amazon must address the reader review element. They can’t just complain about monopoly issues.

  • Terri Moss

    As an independent, boutique publisher specializing in inspirational books for healthcare professionals, Amazon is a necessary evil. I sell books directly on my website ( but must have an Amazon presence for credibility. Amazon takes 30% off my books, I ship directly to the customer but Amazon doesn’t fully reimburse me for shipping, plus anyone can resell my books on Amazon, call them “new” when they aren’t and undercut my price by 80%. One of my books sells for $19.95 and is being sold on Amazon for $7. They can do that because they didn’t pay for the design and printing. Someone picked up the book at a flea market for .50 and is making money off of me. Thanks a lot Amazon…60 Minutes was nothing but an infomercial for Amazon.

    This isn’t about the best run business wins. This is about operating on a completely uneven playing field when it comes to small publishers vs. Amazon.

    • Another Mike

      But you already got your $19.95 for that flea market book, correct? You can’t expect to be paid over and over for the same physical object.

      Or was that a review copy you sent out free of charge?

      • Terri Moss

        Some are review copies, but what I object to is misleading customers into thinking that they are buying a new book when they aren’t. I don’t expect to be paid over and over for the same object, but it isn’t sustainable to be undercut for a new product by someone who’s claiming to have a new book when they don’t. Amazon doesn’t screen these consignment offerings.

        • Another Mike

          Makes sense, and hopefully you (and others in your situation) can persuade Amazon to change their terms and conditions to prohibit describing “like new” as “new.”

  • tb

    Sort “highest price” to “lowest” you’ll then seen fur pelt blankets for $16,000.00

    • Another Mike

      Wow. This is the highest price blanket I get:

      John Atkinson Aristocrat Cashmere and Lambs Wool Heirloom Blanket, Full/Queen, 90-Inch by 100-Inch, White $990.00 $540.77

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    The Amazon drone idea is interesting but how can the FAA approve it? Amazon would NOT be the only business wanting to use drones, so we would have ‘air pollution’ with so many of these drones. Not to mention someone with a weapon of some sort would simply have to shoot the drone down and steal the package.

  • SFreader

    Let me start by saying that I do not enjoy the actual act of shopping (vs. buying), so probably 80% of my non-grocery purchases occur online. About two years ago, nearly all of the Christmas gifts I purchased for my kids happened to be delivered on the same day when we were at work, were left on the porch by the mail carrier and were stolen within 10 minutes. This happened 4 days before Christmas. I emailed the Amazon customer service to see if they would be able to deliver a new order in time and got a call from someone 10-15 minutes later. Not only did they expedite the delivery for free, but they actually replaced my stolen gifts without any charge! I did provide them with the phone number of the police officer with whom I filed the report – not sure if they actually verified my story or if desperation in my voice was enough to convince them I wasn’t a scammer. If that’s not a fantastic customer service, I don’t know what is.

  • tb

    Type in “fur pelt blankets” – you’ll get the $16,000 pelt

  • Menelvagor

    i think he’s one of the lizard people.

  • I’m disappointed in Krasny letting Stone off the hook for being a fawning, Bloomberging, Bezos groupie. Amazon lost $800 million in ’99 and the big banks kept pumping money into it. Why? Because they want to destroy jobs in retail and enhance profits at the expense of workers, that’s why. Bezos is just the bozo face of Big Capital. He is no genius, and NPR should be as ashamed of itself as 60 Minutes for kissing his behind. They even RAVED at his flying delivery rovers clearly intended to kill off delivery jobs. HA! Let one of those things land in West Oakland. They’ll be stolen and reprogrammed in a minute. It will be fun watching the cops chasing little bags of crack flying around!

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