Chances are pretty good that even people who have never ordered a single thing online are aware of the existence of Amazon, but even those loyal customers who visit the e-commerce site on a daily basis probably aren’t aware of what goes on behind the scenes. Inside the Giant Machine: An Amazon.com Story, Second Edition by Kalpanik S., pulls back the curtain and lets you get a look at the people who create the online magic. Even though the author hasn’t always had Amazon as an employer, he does a good job of providing a history of the company, from explaining why people shop at Amazon instead of a place called Cadabra all the way to the release of Book 2.0, known around the world as the Kindle.
Kalpanik S. starts things off with a “confession” about being a foreign-born author, explaining that English is his third language. However, this disclaimer really isn’t needed because S. has a good grasp of his third language, and the book moves along at a nice, steady pace. The author also explains early on that a good portion of the book is taken from emails and a blog, with entries from both being compiled in book form. This might present a problem if you have your heart set on reading something in the traditional format of a book, but if a more contemporary blog-like feel doesn’t bother you, there shouldn’t be any problems.
S. doesn’t pull any punches with his descriptions of what goes behind closed doors, providing details on how he was inspired to work for the online giant because of their supposed philosophy of starting a revolution but later realizing that employees are seen as little more than cogs in an immense machine, with all appearances of caring simply being an illusion crafted by the P.R. department.
In addition to providing insight into Amazon, the author gives us a peek at his own life, letting us see what it’s like to live an almost nomadic lifestyle as you uproot the family and move from city to city in pursuit of that next rung on the career ladder.
Inside the Giant machine: An Amazon.com Story, is a great little book that won’t take long to read, and while it probably won’t make you vow to never shop at Amazon again, it just might make you have second thoughts if you’ve been considering applying for a job there.