BooksJacket Copy

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

AuthorsBookJeff BezosMedia IndustryDiana Nyad

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 © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
AuthorsBookJeff BezosMedia IndustryDiana Nyad
  • 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...

  • The strange case of Vivian Maier
    The strange case of Vivian Maier

    The work of Vivian Maier reminds us of how close to the edge we are. For many years a nanny in New York and Chicago, she left an archive of something like 150,000 photographs when she died in 2009 at age 83, and has become an emblem of the hidden life, the native talent, the multitudes we...

  • Would you pay $5,000 (or $10,000) for a Rolling Stones book?
    Would you pay $5,000 (or $10,000) for a Rolling Stones book?

    Yes, it's true. A very big-ticket Rolling Stones book is being published just in time for the holidays. Taschen is publishing a $5,000 collectors edition and a selection of $10,000 art editions of "Rolling Stones," which officially goes on sale in December.

  • Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is dead at 87
    Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is dead at 87

    Galway Kinnell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose work explored themes of nature, religion and human rights, died Tuesday of leukemia at 87 in Sheffield, Vt., reports the New York Times.