Jeff Bezos in 1997: The Origin, Concept, and Promise of Amazon.com

In June, 1997, Jeff Bezos, who still had hair, gave a brief interview during the Special Libraries conference in Seattle.  He explains why he chose books as the first product on which to concentrate, and how building something on-line which couldn’t exist in the real world (a bookstore with access to every book available anywhere) distinguished Amazon from other early E-commerce ventures and generated large amounts of free publicity and word-of-mouth referrals.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

6 thoughts on “Jeff Bezos in 1997: The Origin, Concept, and Promise of Amazon.com”

  1. Amazon was one of the few dot coms that had a business plan I understood. They sold stuff. Some of the dot com startups in the 90’s seemed to exist just to tell venture capitalists, “It’s online and that’s a big deal now.” Eventually investors caught on that, online or off, you needed a plan to monetize your business.

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  2. Vance:
    Amazon was one of the few dot coms that had a business plan I understood.

    And Amazon had something you couldn’t get anywhere else.  You could look up a book, any book, and order it for delivery anywhere if it was in print.  If it was out of print, before long, you could see sellers ranked by price who had it.  If it was hopelessly unavailable, you found that out.  This was utterly liberating, especially for people who didn’t have a major bookstore nearby.  Suddenly, everything ever published, in print or out, was at your fingertips.

    This was not just a business plan I understood, it was one I immediately began to spend money with.  Ordering sacks of dog food on-line, not so much.

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  3. John Walker:

    Vance:
    Amazon was one of the few dot coms that had a business plan I understood.

    And Amazon had something you couldn’t get anywhere else.  You could look up a book, any book, and order it for delivery anywhere if it was in print.  If it was out of print, before long, you could see sellers ranked by price who had it.  If it was hopelessly unavailable, you found that out.  This was utterly liberating, especially for people who didn’t have a major bookstore nearby.  Suddenly, everything ever published, in print or out, was at your fingertips.

    This was not just a business plan I understood, it was one I immediately began to spend money with.  Ordering sacks of dog food on-line, not so much.

    This really meant a lot to someone away from a good English bookstore. And with Kindle I can get a book in less than a minute delivered to my home.

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  4. My wife was working at an insurance company in Seattle in the late 90’s. Amazon was one of their clients but they weren’t very good about paying their bill. However, the salesman on the account said, “I think this one is going to work out” and kept giving them extensions. He was right, of course. Hopefully he was able to keep them as a client long enough to see the payoff.

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