Thursday, March 18, 2021

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Colin Bryar


So, I actually haven't read that many books about business management-- most "business" books I read are about the history of tech and how human psychology influences consumer behavior-- so I'm not sure if this is a shining beacon of knowledge in its genre. I do know that while reading WORKING BACKWARDS, I was smacked with an idea of something I can do to improve my own work ethic, so that was cool. That said, it does seem to be more of a guide for managers and directors (think high level) and less a guide for people who might be lower-level managers/leads who don't directly impact the decisions of their company on the every day.

My favorite portions were actually the promised "stories and secrets from inside Amazon" because it was interesting to get that inside look at the Big Scary Company from which I order all my books. I'm old enough that I actually remember when it JUST sold books (and CDs). I liked reading about the growing pains, the decisions behind some of the major decisions they made, what they learned from their failures (Unbox), and those brief snippets of Jeff Bezos doing his Important CEO Things by asking all of the tough questions.

Another favorite portion of mine was when the two executives break down the development of some of Amazon's key features. OBVIOUSLY my favorite was about the Kindle, which I think is great. When I was working a minimum wage job, I wanted to blog about books like all of the cool kids out there, but I couldn't afford to buy shiny paperbacks fresh off the shelves. Waiting for ebook sales of Kindle books made reading new(ish) books REALLY affordable. Their prescient observation that digital was the way of the future when physical media was still selling well and comfortable was quite lucrative for them (and also, I love my Kindle-- it really is just like a book iPod). I also liked the story about Prime and how they found away to get around people's biggest deterrent in ordering online in the first place: shipping $$$. Free shipping is great.

Vast swaths of this book really didn't apply to me, but I still found it really interesting and I just skimmed the parts that were of less interest. I do want to again issue the caveat that this is first and foremost a book for people working in business (specifically tech business), and if you're not in management or you don't know much about tech, you're going to be sad because there really aren't enough "secrets" in here to tide over a dilettante. I also-- and the authors agree, based on their afternote-- want to issue another caveat that not all of the approaches in here are going to work for every company. Case in point: I love my PowerPoint slides and no big shot is going to convince me otherwise. *snarl*

That said, this book was way more fun than I thought it would be and is very accessible and down-to-earth for what it is!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

3 out of 5 stars

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