Halfway through this book, I wrote:
i haven't finished quite yet, but The Everything Store is thus far the worst book i've read in the genre of corporate hagiography: prose like a wikipedia article, no sense of propulsion or cohesion, complete dearth of interesting reportage
Having finished it, I mostly stand by that remark, though I think I was being perhaps too harsh. It is certainly the worst book I've read in the genre, though it simply was trying to cover too much. Stone clearly did a lot of interviewing for this book, though his access to insiders was clearly gated on a certain position in his reporting; there was nothing in it that rang false (as someone who spent four years in the company immediately following the publication of this book), but whether due to my intense interest & knowledge in the company or due to an attention to surface-level narrative over deeper insights nothing he wrote seemed particularly interesting as well? There are entire books' worth of material that are covered in paragraphs: I wanted to go deep into Amazon's setting up of new verticals or their process of FC scaling & selection or a play-by-play of the Kindle roll-out or so many things that could have been interesting in depth, and instead he scratches the surface. (Maybe what I am saying is that I am not disappointed that it wasn't a more negative book. I am not a huge fan of Amazon but I think it is intensely interesting, and would benefit from a Caro-style microscope.)
Stone opens this book with a question from Bezos ("so how are you going to avoid the narrative fallacy?") which he fails to satisfyingly answer, and ends with a cloying anecdote about him writing an email to his birth father. Those two snippets bookend a few hundred pages that indeed read like a Wikipedia article: one with many footnotes, and one whose content might be interesting to someone completely new to Amazon's world, but they are devoid of insight or incision.