Editors Note: Both Susan Lulgjuraj and Joanna Cabot submitted stories on this topic, but each had a slightly different approach, so we’ll run them both. Be curious what you all think.
It turns not everyone is a fan.
Certainly Brad Stone has learned that this week when the BusinessWeek senior writer’s book was reviewed on Amazon by Mrs. Bezos herself.
The New York Times caught the review for “The Everything Store,” a book on Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos. MacKenzie Bezos titled her one-star review “I wanted to like this book,” but she obviously didn’t.
MacKenzie Bezos points to a mistake early in the book and then continues:
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. Like two other reviewers here, Jonathan Leblang and Rick Dalzell, I have firsthand knowledge of many of the events. I worked for Jeff at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years.
When I read the book (you can find my review here), I had the reaction that many people were going to finish this book with the same viewpoint as entering it. This book wasn’t going to change minds, and I don’t think it was meant to do that either. Specifically, I wrote: “point of view matters when it comes to Amazon.”
I don’t doubt in this case, it’s any different.
I actually didn’t feel that Stone tried to paint Bezos or Amazon in one light or another. I felt he took facts and anecdotes, relayed them to allow the reader to make their own decisions. That’s also the mindset I took while reading the book.
I certainly feel for MacKenzie Bezos. This is a man she has been with for more than 20 years. If you read things you know not to be true and also read things that don’t make your husband look good, you are going to naturally respond to that criticism. I thought her review was written well and she made good points that only someone in her position can make.
Getting facts wrong in a non-fiction story is a problem. People read non-fiction to get the story on a specific topic. In this case, Stone interviewed 300 people (although not Bezos himself) to tell the Amazon story up until now. The thought is he at least got something right.
I would like hear Jeff Bezos’ reaction next. Although, he may not have one anytime soon – or ever.
The New York Times had comment from Stone’s publisher:
Reagan Arthur, the publisher of Little, Brown, said in an email that Mr. Stone’s book was “scrupulously sourced and reported.” “’The Everything Store’ has been reviewed widely and praised for its even-handedness,” she said.