I was graciously given the opportunity to read Bezonomics through an advanced copy from the publisher.
My Bezonomics Review is based on The Rubric.
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Bezonomics Review by The Rubric
It’s difficult to separate the problems with Brian Dumaine’s arguments in Bezonomics from the problems with his writing as he made them, namely the lack of organization in his presentation. (See the Readability section.)
Touted in its description—on Amazon—as an “unbiased look at Amazon’s world-dominating business model,” what the reader finds in these pages is a hodgepodge of conflicting arguments over Amazon that never reach coherence.
There was some research, over 150 interviews (as claimed in the description), anecdotes, and personal commentary. But there was little craftsmanship in putting it all together for this book. It read more like a long, meandering internet article.
And that’s just it… It’s easy enough to read any given paragraph in this book. I didn’t even find it to be much of a chore because the subject matter is inherently interesting to me. But formatted and sold as a business book, it doesn’t make sense.
I can see the publishing conundrum, though. It’s not a biography, or even a history book. Bezonomics definitely aims to make a claim about Amazon and its place in the world. But it never quite gets off the ground.
Part of the problem is the lack of congruence from the answers promised in the title, and those offered in the book.
- (Title) Bezonomics.
- (Subtitle: Part One) How Amazon is changing our lives.
- (Subtitle: Part Two) What the world’s best companies are learning from it.
I was expecting Dumaine to define bezonomics as something unique, but really what he means by bezonomics is the flywheel concept, coined and brought to Bezos by Jim Collins, who has written his own book about it, Turning the Flywheel. (You can also catch the Tim Ferriss interview of Jim Collins where they discuss the flywheel concept.)
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the term bezonomics was added in after the book was written, as the term flywheel is used repeatedly and more organically throughout the text.
How Amazon is changing our lives hardly needs any argumentation at all being so evident on its face, so there’s little credit to the author for having effectively argued it.
What the world’s best companies are learning from Amazon seemed a simple enough claim on the cover, but proved a task more challenging in the book itself. Again, I think perhaps that was a subtitle awarded to the text after the fact, as what was presented in the book was less what companies are learning from Amazon (and the “best” was never even argued), and more how they’re hoping to compete against Amazon.
More disturbing than breaking the promises of its title is that the only consistent argument in the book is nowhere to be found on the cover or in its description.
After you tease out the disheveled arguments pro-government, anti-government, pro-Amazon, anti-Amazon, pro-Bezos, anti-Bezos, what you’re left with is a clear argument to which there was no counterargument made.
The real argument:
- Amazon is leading the charge in job automation.
- Job automation is going to steal more jobs than innovation will replace.
- And universal basic income is the answer.
Definitely not an unbiased look at Amazon’s business model, but worse, it’s a tired and played-out argument dressed up as something else.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “It’s a Start” for arguments.
There is little practical value in this book, even if studying Amazon and its success is your aim.
Out of 150 interviews, very few of them were featured, and they were non-consequential.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “Bad” for practicality.
The subject matter is inherently interesting, so it’s easy enough to enjoy this book. I didn’t mind reading it, like I have other books.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “Decent” for enjoyability.
The book took a hit in the readability section for its problems with organization and presentation. While any given paragraph in the book was fine to read, strung together in chapters and chapters into a book, they seemed to be all over the place with regards to the ideas being presented.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “Decent” for readability.
No external resources were mentioned, nor were they needed. This book stands on its own.
The hits taken in the rhetoric section were for lack of targeting, and for misrepresenting the ideas being sold in the book.
Still, Dumaine is only selling his ideas in this book, which is a plus.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “Decent” for rhetoric.
If you’ve run out of other things to read and you have some time to kill, you might find some entertainment value in this book.
If you want to be inspired, you could do worse than to learn about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, but there are better books for that.
If you want to learn about business and business models, find another book on The List.
By The Rubric, Bezonomics scored “It’s a Start” in total.
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