At first it might seem odd for Mackenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, to lay out exactly how much she disliked The Everything Store, a book about all things Amazon on the very site that the book is about. But actually, it makes perfect sense. Billionaires — they’re just like us!
In the review posted yesterday on the book’s Amazon page titled “I wanted to like this book,” Ms. Bezos accuses author Brad Stone of printing “numerous factual inaccuracies” and presenting “a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon.”
For example: There’s an anecdote about her husband deciding to leave his job and start Amazon after reading Remains of the Day, a book about a butler casting backward in time and regretting some of his personal and professional choices. Stone says that kind of regret was what Bezos wanted to avoid when he was considering the next move in his career.
“But it’s not true,” writes Ms. Bezos. “Jeff didn’t read Remains of the Day until a year after he started Amazon.”
That may seem like a small thing to quibble over, but it points to a larger problem, she adds.
“If this were an isolated example, it might not matter, but it’s not. Everywhere I can fact check from personal knowledge, I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book.”
Beyond taking issue with what she calls “numerous factual inaccuracies,” Ms. Bezos claims the book uses techniques that cast it in a not very nice light, calling it a “lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon.”
“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,” she concedes. “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.”
And when Stone does write about people who support Amazon and its culture, Ms. Bezos claims “he refers to them dismissively throughout the book as robots.”
Stone said he relied on hundreds of interviews he conducted with current and former employees, reports CNNMoney.com. He says that while there were lots of people who had nothing nice to say about Amazon, there were “plenty of people who love everything about it.” He says he’ll change any future editions if he finds inaccuracies in the current edition.
“My job as an author was to balance the often wildly disparate perspectives to get at the truth,” he said. “I didn’t come to it with any agenda other than to tell the missing story of one of the defining companies of our age.”