Why Amazon Sold Books

Good to remember.

Bezos decided to break away from Shaw to start a prototype, but he “concluded that a true everything store would be impractical—at least at the beginning.” He therefore analyzed twenty possible product categories for his new company, including clothes, software, music, and office supplies. According to the principles of mathematics, physics, and finance Bezos applied, books were the best choice. They were “pure commodities” in the sense that a book in one store was exactly the same as a book in another. They were easy to pack and hard to damage. And “there were three million books in print worldwide, far more than a Barnes & Noble or a Borders superstore could ever stock.” Thus an online bookstore would allow Bezos to promote “unlimited selection,” the most important insight that had attracted him and Shaw to the vision of Internet-empowered retailing.


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I take a low view of a lot of what Amazon is doing right now; nevertheless, they do provide a service which to some is a necessity. I live in a part of China where there are very few bookshops, and even fewer foreign-language bookshops. So, if I want to buy anything in as English, Amazon is there. And here in China, it is cash on arrival, so I don’t even need a credit card. I have bought hundreds of books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to buy. Currently reading ‘A Naked Singularity’, ‘The Hall of Uselessness’, and ‘The Sports Gene’—thanks to Conversational reading for some of the recommendations and thanks to Amazon for the service.

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