Last week I was invited to attend the press conference where Jeff Bezos unveiled a whole new “family” of Kindles, and the Kindle Fire. As a book lover, I have been a raving fan of Amazon since the very, very beginning. But after hearing Jeff Bezos talk about the arc of his business, and seeing him talk about it in person, I became a raving fan of his business thinking as well. So this list combines a little bit of both of my feelings.
1. Amazon makes it easy to find any book I could ever want, even old ones. I have to start with this, because ultimately that is how they gained my initial love and appreciation. Without leaving my chair, I don’t have to search through aisles and dusty old bookshops (although that’s fun too)—there is a logic and thoroughness to the search for a book that is unprecedented in history, and unbeatable.
2. Amazon makes it easy to order anything, anytime. The buzzword in the digital world is making everything “frictionless.” Sometimes friction can be fun and stimulating. But when it comes to shopping or finding things, the idea of no friction is absolutely fabulous. With the click of a few buttons, I get what I need and want, when I want it. Oh, if only everything else in life were so easy!
3. People said it would never work. But it did. I remember the conversations around meeting tables in 1996 when Amazon.com first launched. “That will never work” was an oft-repeated phrase. So of course I went right out and bought stock. It was the best money I ever spent. I knew it would work because as a customer, it worked for me. And most true business successes are as simple as that.
4. Amazon is an author’s best friend. Seriously, any author will tell you that there is nothing more fun—or more depressing—than checking your ranking during the first few weeks of a book release. And the reviews are brutal but awesome, too.
5. Amazon is for people (like me) who love to learn new things and are fundamentally curious. I confess: I don’t have a Kindle. I’ve bought three of them, but they immediately get confiscated by family members and I never see them again. However, when I saw at the press conference how you can look up a word, an event, a person or a concept while reading the book (without having to “go online” while doing it) I was stunned. It’s my dream come true. Now I don’t have to get out of bed to go downstairs to look something up that is driving me crazy because I want to know it NOW.
6. Amazon celebrates fearless technological development. My favorite moment at the press conference was a video showing the developers and engineers at Amazon talking about how they thought about and created Amazon Silk, which I still don’t quite understand, except that they clearly were motivated by the idea that it’s possible to make something better and different. If you have the right motivated people on board, technology is just as creative as writing or painting.
7. The Reviews and Ratings are really helpful. If something really doesn’t work, you will know it before you buy it. The ratings and reviews take away the problem that you can’t open the book (oh, actually you can!), or touch something.
8. Amazon has allowed us to expect more. Shopping will never be quite the same now that Amazon has raised the bar. Certainly online shopping is always measured against the Amazon Standard.
9. I feel valued and respected by Amazon. I remember in the early days when I was a regular customer every year they would send me a different travel mug. What a concept! They’ve long since stopped doing that, but I still feel like every new launch, every daily experience, is aimed at keeping me happy. They don’t email me too much and what they email me is stuff I’m really interested in.
10. I have faith that Amazon will continually surprise and delight me. It’s a business cliché, but clichés exist for a reason—because they are common truths. They don’t have to resort to tricks or schemes to get me to be their customer, they just keep me happy and I keep buying. That’s good business.
Having said all this, I do come from the same location where Amazon has a new warehouse that is poorly managed, abusive to their workers and keeps the local police, ambulances and Allentown Morning Call reporters busy. So I expect them to fix it and fix it fast.
So Jeff, if you come to Allentown to fix your warehouse, I can take you to the best organic restaurant (Bolete) and show you my library filled with probably 8,000 books, the majority of which I bought from you. I’ll even show you my secret romance library! (Because every Nancy Drew fan dreams of having a secret bookshelf in her library).