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November 19, 2013

News & Opinion: Amazon's Best, and the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 6:35 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award was announced last night. Unsurprisingly, I suppose, it did not go to Steven Mandis's excellent book on Goldman Sachs—What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider's Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences released by Harvard Business Review Press last month. That would be like Amazon announcing their best book of the year was Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

No, the industry's biggest award—or at least the one with the biggest payday and the most pomp and circumstance—went to... hey, look at that, Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. The acclaimed journalist took home the award and it's £30,000 prize at a ceremony in London, England on Monday evening. Stone's book beat out five others on the FT/Goldman Sachs Shortlist, which were themselves culled from a longlist of 14 books back in August.

Andrew Hill at FT tells us:
The award judges’ decision is at odds with the views of Mr Bezos’s wife, MacKenzie, who posted her own critical review of the book on Amazon, awarding it a single star out of a possible five. But Vindi Banga, a partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and a member of the judging panel, described The Everything Store as “inspirational” for young entrepreneurs and said it was “full of management lessons”.
There was actually something of a review war on Amazon over this book in which, as Jason Del Ray of allthingsd.com described it, Amazon’s First Employee Disses MacKenzie Bezos Review That Disses New Book About Amazon.

Who knew there could be so much drama in business books? We here at 800-CEO-READ really liked Stone's book and think this is a very good choice by the judges, even though it sounds as if it was not an easy one to make:
Monday’s final judging session saw panellists continue the robust debate they started at the meeting to select six finalists in September. They eventually narrowed the shortlist down to three titles—including Anita Raghavan’s The Billionaire’s Apprentice, about the Galleon insider trading scandal, and The Alchemists, Neil Irwin’s analysis of how UK, US and European central bankers handled the crisis—before finally selecting The Everything Store.

The winner, published last month by Little, Brown in the US and Transworld/Bantam Press in the UK, was described by Lionel Barber, the FT’s editor and chairman of the judging panel, as a “must-read for disrupters around the world”. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said the book was “a provocative take” on Amazon’s transformation of the publishing, consumer electronics and cloud computing industries.
But let's get back to Amazon itself for a minute, because they picked their Best Books of 2013 earlier this month, as well. And, though they did not pick the book about themselves as the winner in the Business & Investing category, they did pick a book that Amazon would like to be the answer to: Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier.

They actually picked 20 books in this category, though, and it's a really solid list. In order of what sold best at the Amazon store, the list is: There are a few books in the general Nonfiction list that may interest business book enthusiasts, as well, including but not limited to Jaron Lanier's aforementioned Who Owns the Future? I would also encourage those interested to take a look at Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson and Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson from the Science category.

We will keep you updated as other lists appear, and when we announce our books of the year in January.