Monday memo #12: Amazon

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Each day at the The Browser we recommend five or six pieces of outstanding new writing. In the Monday Memo we plunder our archives to bring you our all-time favourites on a current theme. This week: inside Amazon.
Subscribe to The Browser! (
Get daily recommendations to your inbox
Inside Amazon’s Bruising Workplace (
David Streitfeld & Jodi Kantor | New York Times | 15th August 2015

Amazon workers are "encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings", to "toil long and late", and to meet standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high”. But is that a reasonable way to run a company? Amazon may say that this article channels the sour grapes of ex-employees, but the accumulation of anecdotal evidence is both inspiring and depressing. It seems that you can work or live, but not both (6,700 words)
The Ultimate Amazon Product (
John Herrman | Awl | 3rd April 2015

When a start-up launches a ground-breaking product, it usually gets the benefit of the doubt. The product will succeed only by meeting a demand, and who knows where the value may eventually be captured. But when Amazon launches a product — Dash, Home Services — different rules apply. Every launch is a bid for a monopoly. Amazon products "feel, first and foremost, like solutions to Amazon’s problems, not yours" (1,300 words)
Why Amazon has No Profits (
Benedict Evans | 5th September 2014

"We have dozens of separate businesses within Amazon, and over two million third party seller accounts, all sitting on top of the Amazon fulfillment and commerce platform. Some are mature and profitable, some are not. Someone at Amazon has the job of making sure that each quarter, this nets out to as close to zero as possible, at least as far as net income goes. There’s no other way to achieve that sort of consistency" (2,300 words)
The Amazon Whisperer (
Jason Feifer | Fast Company | 18th November 2013

Meet the company that makes products based on Amazon reviews of other products. It's called C&A and it has 20 staff in New Jersey scanning internet comments to find what additional features shoppers want in a product. If customer reviews of waterproof audio speakers on Amazon are asking for a speaker with Bluetooth connectivity, for example, C&A hires a manufacturer in China to produce one (1,740 words)
Why subscribe to The Browser?

Subscribers get unlimited access to our vast archives; the full text of selected articles from paid sources like the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, The Economist and Foreign Affairs; the option to receive our daily content by email; and an extremely neat set of buttons for saving recommended articles to Pocket and other read-later services.

If you're an avid Pocket user, you can have everything we recommend delivered to your Android or iOS device for offline reading.

A subscription is $34 for a year. If you're a former subscriber, here's a link ( which will renew you right away. If you're new, click here ( . We will ask you for an email address, nothing more, and then show you a little pop-up window from Stripe to make the payment. We don't see your financial details.

With best wishes,

Robert Cottrell, Editor
Duncan Brown, Publisher

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in