Books Jacket Copy

Jeff Bezos' wife gives a one-star review to the new Amazon book

In general, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon" by Brad Stone has been getting pretty good reviews. Not, however, from the Amazon user MacKenzie Bezos, who gives it one star.

MacKenzie Bezos is Jeff Bezos' wife, and Amazon has confirmed that it is in fact she who posted the review.

In a 900-word write-up criticizing the book, MacKenzie Bezos asserts that the book leads off with an inaccuracy -- that Jeff Bezos read "Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro before he started Amazon, which she says he read a year later.

"I have firsthand knowledge of many of the events," she writes. "I worked for Jeff at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years."

Mrs. Bezos gives "The Everything Store" the lowest possible ranking, one star out of five. She thinks, as well as being inaccurate, the book goes too far to describe Bezos' state of mind without interviewing the man himself, and that it is dismissive of those who relay "accounts of a supportive and inspiring culture" at Amazon.

These seem to be valid concerns. Whether they genuinely reflect the book, which its publisher describes as "The definitive story of, one of the most successful companies in the world, and of its driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos," is another matter.

In the world of book reviews, an effort is made to preserve impartiality. Writers and editors take pains to make sure that the reviewer doesn't have a personal connection to the author.

Although what is written on Amazon is often considered a review of a book -- they are commonly called "Amazon reviews" -- there are no such safeguards. Anyone can leave a low rating for a book -- a literary nemesis, a staffer doing as they're told or a faithful spouse.

Mrs. Bezos isn't the first. That happened in England when a historian's wife, using the pseudonym "a historian," left a number of negative reviews of his rivals' books. British crime writer R.J. Ellory created an account that left glowing reviews of his own work while savaging his rivals before being discovered. Meanwhile, the content of reviews on Goodreads, which Amazon acquired earlier this year, has recently been the subject of much debate.

Maybe it would help if we stopped calling these things reviews. Customer feedback, maybe? Thoughts? Feelings?

As of this writing, the one-star review of "The Everything Store" by MacKenzie Bezos is the "most helpful" of the customer reviews at Amazon, as voted by 218 of 238 Amazon users.


Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad to write memoir

Mia Couto of Mozambique wins the Neustadt Prize, 'America's Nobel'

Author Orson Scott Card promises more books in 'Ender's Game' series

Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Roy Choi serves up an appetizer with memoir 'L.A. Son'
    Roy Choi serves up an appetizer with memoir 'L.A. Son'

    Chef Roy Choi, pioneer of L.A.'s food-truck craze, traces his life from childhood to the Kogi Korean taco truck.

  • 100 years of bookmobiles
    100 years of bookmobiles

    The German Robi bookmobile is pretty neat: from the outside, it seems like little more than a big blue bus. On the inside, however, it's an ultra-modern hangout with books galore. Inspired by its combination of books and wheels, here's a quick tour through bookmobiles of the ages.

  • Favorites from the L.A. Public Library's menu collection
    Favorites from the L.A. Public Library's menu collection

    A recent donation to the L.A. Public Library will add 30 boxes of ephemera collected by one man over 60 years to its voluminous and charming menu collection. The menus, ticket stubs and more will be added to the nearly 9,000 items already in the collection, 7,000 of which are online. The...

  • James Hannaham discusses drugs, slavery and 'Delicious Foods'
    James Hannaham discusses drugs, slavery and 'Delicious Foods'

    James Hannaham has made a career out of being unpredictable. The Bronx-born writer has worked as a journalist, critic, actor, comedian and teacher. His first novel, "God Says No," about a young African American Christian man coming to terms with his attraction to men, garnered critical praise...

  • The Evergreen Review to be rebooted by O/R Books
    The Evergreen Review to be rebooted by O/R Books

    During its short print life, from 1957-1973, The Evergreen Review published a striking lineup of literary luminaries: Jean-Paul Sartre, Vladimir Nabokov, William Burroughs, Marguerite Duras, John Rechy, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jorge Luis Borges, Norman Mailer, Amiri...

  • Books take two views on shame and its place in the modern age
    Books take two views on shame and its place in the modern age

    Every week there seems to be a news story circulating featuring people who have brought humiliation on themselves. While the disgraced individuals are occasionally hapless and sympathetic, quite often — like the Oklahoma frat boys and their elderly "frat mom" who recently exposed...