I recently heard from a reader who was organizing a book club discussion of The Everything Store. “I couldn’t find any great resources, so I thought I’d take a chance and email you and see if you, as the author, have any suggestions,” she asked.
After thinking about it a bit, I offered these 10 questions for discussion. (A lot of these are questions I’ve been hearing as I talk about the book…)
1. (A fun exercise to start off:) Go to your account history on Amazon and share: what was the first product you bought on the site, and when did you buy it?
2. What is the central element that distinguished Amazon from other internet companies that started in the mid-90s, but that either failed or were overtaken?
3. What are the leadership qualities of Jeff Bezos, as presented in the book, that you most admire? What are the qualities you disdain in a boss?
4. A key moment in the history of Amazon was Bezos’s decision to build the first Kindle e-reader. What were the risks – and why did it succeed?
5. Would your company be capable of making moves such as the decision to build the Kindle, and to start Amazon Web Services, its pioneering cloud business?
6. Amazon battled and ultimately acquired Zappos and Diapers.com – two threatening challengers that were also selling commodity products at low prices with excellent customer service. What did you make of Amazon’s tactics, as presented in the book – and the wisdom of the Zappos and Diapers’ entrepreneurs in challenging Amazon in this way?
7. Did you find the story of Ted Jorgensen, Jeff Bezos’s biological father, relevant in a business book and a biography of Amazon?
8. Is Amazon a missionary or mercenary company?
9. Are you more or less likely to shop at Amazon after reading the book?
10. Considering Amazon is growing rapidly and launching new services almost every month – like AmazonFresh, its grocery delivery business – where do you think Amazon will be in 10 years?