Mrs. Bezos and the 1-Star Review
November 5, 2013 | 9:20 am
By Joanna Cabot
Editors Note: Both Susan Lulgjuraj and Joanna Cabot submitted stories on this topic, but each had a slightly different approach, so we’ll run them both. Be curious what you all think.
I bookmarked this odd little story last night, and when I went to find the link this morning, it was all over the internet: it seems that Mackenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has posted a not-so-flattering review of a new book profiling the rise of Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
Her review, which has been called ‘scathing’ in some news stories I read, but which seemed respectful to me, takes issue with some of the stylistic devices author Brad Stone uses, which she felt “passes off speculation about his thoughts and intentions as fact” and also points out a few small factual errors which she feels “casts doubt over every episode in the book.” Her one-star review currently has over 1200 ‘this review is helpful’ likes.
There are a few interesting things to me about this story. The first and most obvious issue is that Mrs. Bezos understandably has a bias as far as this book is concerned, and that calls her credibility as a reviewer into question. Or…does it? Author Brad Stone, in his own response to this story admits that he is thankful to her for pointing out the errors she mentioned, and that he plans to correct them. So can Mrs. Bezos be both unbiased and right? I think she can.
The second aspect, which I only found out myself when I read multiple articles on this and did some digging, is that Mackenzie Bezos is herself an author. And I do give her credit for seeming to not exploit the obvious advantage her husband’s job could potentially give her. I have never seen her books featured as Deals of the Day, nor heard Jeff Bezos mention them in interviews or otherwise help her to promote and market them. Maybe their genre (literary fiction) doesn’t lend them to that sort of promotion. Or maybe there are other reasons. But either way, she does gain some credibility with me for keeping her own business to herself.
So yes, it’s funny. I can see why the media leaped all over this one. His wife slams the book about him! Tee hee! But at the same time, I can see her point of view as well. As the author himself says: “Still, I’m not so high on my own authority to ignore the obvious: there are details of this story that only Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos can know. If they point to errors, I’ll gladly correct them.”
She most definitely has a bias in this. But she could be right, too.