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Inside the Giant Machine: An Amazon.com Story

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2.88  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  21 reviews
On Dec. 14, 2009, customers ordered over 9.5 million items worldwide on Amazon, which is a record-breaking 110 items per second. How large a machine do you need to process and ship this kind of volume? How efficiently do you need operate it? And what kind of people do you need to keep it going?

The author, a former Technologist from Amazon.com writing under a pen name,
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Paperback, 136 pages
Published March 10th 2010 by Createspace (first published March 9th 2010)
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Average rating 2.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  149 ratings  ·  21 reviews


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Ron
Dec 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Uhg. This was the most disappointing book I've read on my Kindle. Not even a full-length book, but longer than an amazon short. Reads like a series of blog posts, with very little insight into the workings of the company.

Not recommended.
Cliff Hays
A few of the sections were interesting (the ones that actually talked about the inner workings of Amazon). The author had a tendency to digress into strange memoir-like tangents. Not bad if you're into that sort of thing, but I am not.
David
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Weak sauce. Poorly written, jumped around a lot, and didn't actually provide much insight into working at Amazon.
Valentin Chirosca
Jan 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel in Dhaka not Washington so I'v stopped using Kindle.
Patrice Sartor
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
1.5 Stars.

This tale of the author's time at Amazon seems to me an example of a negative aspect of the proliferation of self-publishing. I feel this would be better served as a series of blog posts instead of a book. Maybe they even were on a blog at some point. *shrug*

Kalpanik explains how and why he left a high-powered job in Silicon Valley to join Amazon, in rainy Seattle. He mentions his family here and there. He attempts to exude charisma, wit, and cleverness, and he failed for me on all
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Peter Heinrich
Jan 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
Here's a hodge podge of reflective observations, Amazon.com corporate history, and strange personal anecdotes, many approaching TMI territory. As long-form casual writing, this book is uneven and its style distracting. As an exposé or true history of Amazon.com, its corporate culture, well-known CEO, or his metrics-driven management, this book is little better than that story you heard about the guy who wrote that blog—you know, he was on NPR, talking about that thing—and feels about as ...more
Nate Benson
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was great, and this edition is by far the best. I thought it was just about Amazon, going back through the company's history, but it was actually made a lot more interesting by having the author's thoughts about it all in there. It's cool to see it from the perspective of someone who watched it happen rather than what the media decides to report. Great sense of humor, this guy, too - his daughters' names made me literally laugh out loud! It's a great read, definitely worth a shot if ...more
Dennis Willingham
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, kindle, non-fiction
I saw this offered as a free kindle book and picked it up. Very short, quick read. Interesting, a technocrat's view from the inside. The frustration he experesses over the best presented ideas winning out over better technical solutions is a common problem when non-experts have to make decisions on matters they don't really understand but know they need to do. I've worked in a number of technology companies and I don't think Amazon's review process, as he described it, is a whole lot more ...more
Michelle
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book, and this one is probably my favorite edition. It was such a fun read - the author's really witty and takes what might otherwise be a boring biography of Amazon into a complete story about the company's growth and how his own life was altered by that. It about Amazon changing as a company, but it's also about the author's transformation in response to that. This book was great because you're bound to learn something new about Amazon, and you also get the opportunity to ...more
Nate Benson
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great read, really funny. If you're interested in Amazon, you definitely learn from this book. Since it's about this guy who works for them, you get to see some great behind-the-scenes action of what really went on/goes on. The guy got some laughs out of me too, like his daughter's names - ridiculous, but I guess it works for anonymity. xD I thought it was an interesting read, and since it's so short, you've really got nothing to lose if you want to chance it. Great information and funny ...more
Rich Meyer
Dec 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Exceedingly mediocre. The only interesting bits were the description of Amazon's warehousing operation and the postscript about the OSHA interventions in Pennsylvania. One wonders about the integrity of an employee (and a company without fail-safes) that allows a young girl to "hack" into her father's personnel file without setting off any alarms. There's no big anti-Amazon expose here ... just a lot of whining and a lot of wingeing about apparent culture shock in Seattle. Complete waste of time ...more
Katie
Feb 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
While Kalpanik is obviously a mathematical genius, his talents don't extend to writing. Readers hoping to learn the down and dirty about Amazon will be disappointed, as the only two revelations are the difficulty of being hired at the company and that the CEO is a jerk. A real revelation would have been to learn that there's a CEO that ISN'T a jerk. There is an article written about the horrible working conditions in the warehouse in PA, but this isn't written by Kalpanik.

This book reads more
...more
Tom Schulte
This a real mess of a book: a discursive mismatch of Seattle culture clash for the Asian outsider, Silicon Valley longing, and buyer's remorse over an Amazon career.

Kalpanik does seem to have some convincing facts that Amazon is a modern day sweatshop, at least for warehouse workers and is even a soulless metrics-driven slog of working for The Man at Keeping-The-People-Down, Inc. even for white collar personnel.
Darko Doko
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, history
I normally give 5 star to every book that I just can not put aside while reading. This is one of those books that you read in a breath of time, but the reason why I gave 4 star is that title might be misleading. The book is really well written and its really interesting but it is not that much about Amazon.
Nevertheless I enjoyed it.
Michelle
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this! Inside the Giant Machine is so well written - very witty and humorous, I was laughing half the time! It's just as much about the author's transition through the process as it is about Amazon's transformation into the huge company it is today. It was insightful and inspiring all at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed this!
Olli
Sep 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Quick read. Very inconsistent and consist weird random pieces of personal stories that do not relate to Amazon in any way. Does not give any kind of even reasonably good insight to Amazon. Mainly reflects public information, and doesn't do even that too well. Can't recommend - waste of time and money.
Urban Sedlar
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
somewhat mixed feelings; expected more details about Amazon, but it contains a lot of unrelated personal stories, some of which are, to be fair, fun to read. On the plus side, it's a short read and available as a free e-book
Betty
May 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at the Amazon machine we all love so much. Amazon is so amazing in its insight and customer service, but it seems they are not as concerned with their employees. Very insightful.
Bill Tillman
Somewhat disappointed by the book's lack of currency. Author left Amazon in 2005, somewhat surprised by company philosophy. Another Internet Giant caught with its pants down.
Vivek Kumar
I like the chapter where the author describes his interview for the company..
Benscopato
Apr 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Awful book. Provides no insight into Amazon, poorly written, and we're subjected to the authors downright creepy, lustful observations on young women. Awful, awful, awful.
Charles
rated it it was ok
Jul 12, 2012
Charles Crowley
rated it really liked it
May 10, 2015
John
rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2015
Mary
rated it it was ok
May 19, 2014
P T
rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2011
Geoff Sager
rated it did not like it
Apr 13, 2014
P T
rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2011
Lucy
rated it it was ok
Apr 15, 2012
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