Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: Fulfillment

July 27, 2021 Uncategorized 13 ★★★★★

Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: FulfillmentTitle: Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
Author: Alec MacGillis, Stefan Alexander MacGillis
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: An incredibly timely, relevant read that manages to be both infuriating and engaging.

This story isn’t a look at Amazon itself, but a sweeping exploration of the people and places impacted by that company’s expansion. The author talks to an incredible variety of people. They live across the United States and their lives have intersected with Amazon in countless ways. The author also talks to older people and sprinkles in some history himself, showing how we reached the current state of the country. He particularly focuses on the way Amazon has exacerbated national, regional, and local inequality.

What an incredible book! I admired that the author mostly just laid out the facts of this story. He does reveal some of his own opinions about what needs to happen at the end of the book. For the most part, though, he leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions. This certainly isn’t a polemic. I loved the many different perspectives the author shared. The collection of varied stories was essential for understanding the many facets of such an enormous company. The organization of chapters primarily by place, occasionally by theme, worked well. The author managed to make a cohesive story out of many moving parts.

The author did a particularly good job of sharing stories that are rarely told. At least, I’ve rarely read this much about ordinary people struggling to get by. Differences in the experiences of Black and white workers, from past to present day, were described in some detail. I loved the many quotes and little details the author used to bring you into each person’s experience. This made the story strangely enjoyable and engaging, despite also being frustrating and infuriating. In particular, I am still left wondering why so many politicians throw incentives at a company that does so little for the communities that surround it. I’m guessing its pretty much always donations, but if so, the author didn’t share that info in most cases.

I loved this enough that I feel like I should have more to say about it. I think I’ve highlighted its main strengths though. It was an enjoyable, immersive read, but with the majority of US households holding Prime memberships, it’s also timely and relevant to everyone. Definitely a book I’d like everyone to pick up.

13 Responses to “Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: Fulfillment”

  1. Helen Murdoch

    Amazon is such an interesting topic and has so many facets to it (social, emotional, economic, political, etc) that I am not surprised this is an great read.

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! And while I enjoyed getting so many perspectives on the company from this book, I’d definitely still read more about them.

    • DoingDewey

      I’d definitely recommend this one! I’ll probably be reading some more about them eventually, so I’ll let you know if I come across anything good 🙂

  2. Liz Dexter

    This sounds like such an important book. Since Bezos went up in that stupid rocket when he could solve world poverty with a few donations, I’ve been trying even more not to use them!

    • DoingDewey

      Yeah, I’ve been avoiding shopping with them as much as possible, ever since they refused to join a bunch of other companies in avoiding donating to Breitbart. They’re truly the worst.

  3. Bookertalk

    Did Amazon itself contribute anything to the book? Would be interesting to learn what they say about their community involvement.

    • DoingDewey

      We got a few quotes from the company around specific events, but no. While the author didn’t preach his own views, it was still pretty clear what side he came down on and the perspectives presented were largely from people either outside the company or not in leadership roles.
      DoingDewey recently posted…Nonfiction About Amazon in Review: FulfillmentMy Profile

  4. Rennie

    This sounds absolutely fantastic! Like you I’m hoping to better understand why there are so many political incentives given to a company that does nothing to deserve them but I also suspect there’s some purposeful murkiness obscuring that. It really seems like he covers so many aspects of how Amazon has affected communities and economics, I’m impressed by how comprehensive it seems to be. I can’t wait to read this one!

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, it was so good! I definitely think you’d enjoy it. From what was included in the book, it does seem like amazon makes a real effort to keep their interactions with local politicians from becoming public. If you pick this up, it’s one I’d love to discuss 🙂

      • Rennie

        I was around number 70-something on the library holds list when I left for Berlin and didn’t bother freezing it because I figured it’d be months more before it came in. I have no idea how but it’s ready now and I’m not back for almost two weeks 🙁 Ugh, what luck. If I can eventually get it I’d love to discuss too, it sounds great!
        Rennie recently posted…Lyrical Translated Nonfiction From the Sea + GiveawayMy Profile

        • DoingDewey

          Oh, that’s too bad! I’m guessing I’ve taken too long to reply for this to be helpful, but if you e-mail them, they might be able to do something for you. As long as they don’t charge a reshelving fee, I guess you can also always put it on hold again. Hopefully the wait list will have gone down.

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