A Fairway business that serves as a model for brick-and-mortar establishment in the book industry is featured in this week’s The New Yorker profile of an Internet behemoth.
Reporter George Packer’s extensive profile of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos includes a recollection from Rainy Day Books’ Roger Doeren, who spoke with Bezos in Amazon’s formative days at the annual BookExpo America convention.
Doeren stopped at the Amazon booth Bezos was manning and peppered him with a few questions about the company’s claim that it was “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore.”:
“So what makes you Earth’s biggest?”
“We have the most affiliate links”—a form of online advertising.
Doeren considered this, then asked, “What’s your business model?”
Bezos said that Amazon intended to sell books as a way of gathering data on affluent, educated shoppers. The books would be priced close to cost, in order to increase sales volume. After collecting data on millions of customers, Amazon could figure out how to sell everything else dirt cheap on the Internet. (Amazon says that its original business plan “contemplated only books.”)
Afterward, Doeren told his partner at Rainy Day Books, Vivien Jennings, “I just met the world’s biggest snake-oil salesman. It’s going to be really bad for books.”