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How Amazon went from book seller to retail giant

Original Amazon site

Image of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Author: Brad Stone
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 576 pages

Amazon started out as a mere online book seller. Now it's a force, maybe the force, in retail.  

Brad Stone, writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, spent time at the company covering its growth and its founder Jeff Bezos. His new book, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," explores the company's rise and its culture.

Stone says much of Amazon's success is due to the competitive work environment Bezos fosters.

But that doesn't sit well with everyone, "I mean he doesn't want it to be a country club for his employees. He wants everyone giving the proverbial 110 percent," Stone says. "And it's why frankly a lot of people go to Amazon and leave after two years."  

At the same time, Stone says that without that relentless office culture, Amazon likely doesn't sit as its current throne as a retail giant. It's reach is so broad, even the CIA will soon be running its operations on Amazon web servers

"Amazon is ruthless in pursuit of pleasing its customers and what his critics would say is that its ruthless in gaining power and fame," he says. "The interesting thing about a complex company like Amazon is that really both are true. And you know, it's what makes it such an interesting story."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Author: Brad Stone
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 576 pages
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I too am an Amazon Prime member, and I was buying books and CDs from them as far back as the late 90s. About six months ago, Amazon added digital rips to my Prime Music library of every CD I ever bought, going back as far as 1997. It was a pleasant surprise, and it did increase my loyalty to the brand. If they try to do that with all the DVDs I have purchased over the years, they are going to need to add some servers.

Kai, NPR is about independence and you fell all over how much you support Amazon and love giving them money. No independent stores in LA? We have Square Books in Oxford Mississippi and Amazon would like them out of business. I was surprised by your tremendous support of a large corporation. Really upsetting.

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