A book about e-commerce giant Amazon, selling on the Amazon site, gets a one-star rating from the wife of the Amazon founder. You couldn’t make it up.
The book in question is The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, penned by Bloomberg Businessweek writer Brad Stone.
Released last month, the 384-page hardcover is described by publisher Little, Brown and Company as “the definitive story of Amazon.com” and of its “driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos.”
Although the majority of reviewers on the site have, at the time of writing, given the book five stars, MacKenzie Bezos deemed it worthy of only one, claiming it focuses too much on the negative and contains a slew of factual errors.
Titled ‘I wanted to like this book’, MacKenzie says in her lengthy 930-word review that The Everything Store contains “way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book.”
Warming to her theme, she added that although the “numerous” errors were “troubling in a book being promoted to readers as a meticulously researched definitive history,” it’s not the biggest issue she has with it.
Her main concern, she wrote, is that it’s “full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction, and the result is a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon.”
MacKenzie continued, “An author writing about any large organization will encounter people who recall moments of tension out of tens of thousands of hours of meetings and characterize them in their own way, and including those is legitimate. But I would caution readers to take note of the weak rhetorical devices used to make it sound like these quotes reflect daily life at Amazon or the majority viewpoint about working there.”
The review is also critical of the passages where Stone writes about what Jeff Bezos apparently felt or thought in various situations during Amazon’s history, pointing out that he was never interviewed by Stone for the book.
‘It’s a polarizing and secretive company.’
Speaking to Business Insider on Monday, Stone defended his work, saying, “I talked to 300 people, many current and former Amazon executives. It’s a polarizing and secretive company. To the extent I made any mistakes, I’ll happily correct them….for e-book and forthcoming editions.”
He added, “She’s accusing me of bias or a hidden perspective. I tried to endeavor to have a balanced view. I didn’t have any hidden bias, but I’m certainly less biased than Jeff’s wife when it comes to an account of the company’s history.”
Later on Monday, Amazon itself entered the fray, with a spokesperson issuing a statement claiming Stone had many meetings with senior company executives “during which he had every opportunity to inquire about or fact-check claims made by former employees. He chose not to.”
With the dispute looking like it could rumble on, Amazon and Stone should both turn out to be winners, with the e-commerce company taking a cut of every sale of a book that’s receiving more publicity than it otherwise might have done.