Inside the Giant Machine

An Amazon.com Story, Second Edition

Non-Fiction - Memoir
220 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite

You can love them or loathe them, but since Amazon sold their first book over nineteen years ago, the company has transformed the lives of book lovers and online shoppers worldwide. The company started out as an e-commerce bookstore, but grew to the retail giant of today through the efforts of some of the world's finest technoratis. One such person is author S. Kalpanik, who chronicles his personal experiences with the company in his book Inside the Giant Machine: An Amazon.com Story. While Kalpanik was doing other (equally interesting) things with his life when it all started, he did experience Amazon's crucial shift from retailer to major selling platform from a close vantage point and provides insight into how some of the features we take for granted today, such as the search algorithm and the look-inside-the-book application were created. Through the author's eyes, readers experience the relocation to Seattle and also the ultimate 'kiss-off' when he finally decides to leave the company.

Inside the Giant Machine by S. Kalpanik will make an absorbing read to anyone interested in exploring internet history or learning more about the dynamics that drive the powerful thrust of e-commerce. You will visit Amazon's largest warehouse in Fernley, Nevada, and discover why even executives must still shoulder warehouse duty from time to time. Speaking of those fully automated warehouses, you will also learn how they are optimized for shipping efficiency. Other topics covered include the company's extensive hiring protocol, almost draconian work ethic and how the notorious "cruelty curve" is applied. You will also catch priceless glimpses of the company's sometimes goofy CEO and founder Jeff Bizos at his best - and worst. The book was released through Amazon's own self publishing arm, which - considering the content - seems both ironic and deeply significant.