A new biography of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos claims to be "the definitive story" of the company, but one Amazon reviewer is distinctly unimpressed: Bezos' wife MacKenzie.
"Everywhere I can fact check from personal knowledge, I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book," she wrote in a lengthy one-star critique of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by author Brad Stone.
"The book is also full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction, and the result is a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon."
Novelist Bezos suggests that Stone's book uses "weak rhetorical devices" and "unbalanced reporting" on the working culture within Amazon, and claims its descriptions of the company's founder "passes off speculation about his thoughts and intentions as fact".
"Readers should remember that Jeff was never interviewed for this book, and should also take note of how seldom these guesses about his feelings and motives are marked with a footnote indicating there is any other source to substantiate them."
Amazon questions fact-checking
For its part, Amazon has also criticised the book, issuing a statement to Business Insider, the technology site in which Jeff Bezos is an investor. It revealed that, while Bezos himself wasn't interviewed for Stone's book, the company did co-operate with its author.
"Over the course of the author’s reporting, Amazon facilitated meetings for him with more than half a dozen senior Amazon executives, during which he had every opportunity to inquire about or fact-check claims made by former employees. He chose not to," claimed Amazon's spokesperson Craig Berman.
"I met in person with him on at least three occasions and exchanged dozens of emails where he only checked a few specific quotes. He had every opportunity to thoroughly fact-check and bring a more balanced viewpoint to his narrative, but he was very secretive about the book and simply chose not to."
Author denies bias
Stone has defended his book, telling Business Insider that he interviewed 300 people for the biography, including current and past executives, promising to correct any mistakes for future editions, and defending his claims to know what Bezos was thinking at various points in Amazon's history.
"Narrative non-fiction demands that authors get as close to their characters as possible. I didn't invent those rules," said Stone.
"She's accusing me of bias or a hidden perspective. I tried to endeavor to have a balanced view. I didn't have any hidden bias, but I'm certainly less biased than Jeff's wife when it comes to an account of the company's history."
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