Account of Jeff Bezos and Amazon wins Business Book of the Year
The Everything Store by journalist Brad Stone was awarded the £30,000 prize for the year’s “most compelling and enjoyable” business book at a ceremony in London on Monday.
The award judges’ decision is at odds with the views of Mr Bezos’s wife, MacKenzie, who posted her own critical review of the book on Amazon, awarding it a single star out of a possible five. But Vindi Banga, a partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and a member of the judging panel, described The Everything Store as “inspirational” for young entrepreneurs and said it was “full of management lessons”.
Monday’s final judging session saw panellists continue the robust debate they started at the meeting to select six finalists in September. They eventually narrowed the shortlist down to three titles – including Anita Raghavan’s The Billionaire’s Apprentice, about the Galleon insider trading scandal, and The Alchemists, Neil Irwin’s analysis of how UK, US and European central bankers handled the crisis – before finally selecting The Everything Store.
The winner, published last month by Little, Brown in the US and Transworld/Bantam Press in the UK, was described by Lionel Barber, the FT’s editor and chairman of the judging panel, as a “must-read for disrupters around the world”. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said the book was “a provocative take” on Amazon’s transformation of the publishing, consumer electronics and cloud computing industries.
Mr Stone’s book interweaves the story of Amazon with that of Mr Bezos, who gave up his job with a Wall Street hedge fund to exploit the potential of the internet. He started with the online sale of books, but expanded the range to turn Amazon into the web equivalent of a department store. “I thought he was a little crazy,” says one early employee of the company quoted in the book, which describe Mr Bezos’s frugality, obsessive attention to detail and desire for long-term success rather than short-term profit.
The FT and Goldman Sachs award started in 2005 and is given annually to the book that provides “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues”. Last year’s winner was Private Empire, about ExxonMobil, by Steve Coll, who was on the 2013 judging panel.
The other shortlisted titles this year were Making It Happen by Iain Martin, about the rise and fall of Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data, on the benefits and challenges of the information revolution, and Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for women to advance in the workplace. Each of the runners-up will receive £10,000.
To read extracts from The Everything Store and other finalists, visit the Business Book of the Year Award 2013 page
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