In a 'misplaced' interview, Jeff Bezos revealed why he chose books as the 'greatest product' to sell on Amazon


Amazon is likely to be a $1.5 trillion “everything store” at this time. In the starting, it was simply books — and Jeff Bezos had a cause for that hyper-specificity.

Bezos defined why he chose to solely sell books on his web site — at the least, at first — in a “lost” video interview recorded at a Special Libraries Association convention in June 1997, which resurfaced in 2019 when it was posted on-line by entrepreneur Brian Roemmele.

Out of all the totally different merchandise you would possibly have the ability to sell on-line, books supplied an “extremely uncommon profit” that set them aside, Bezos stated.

“There are extra gadgets in the e book class than there are gadgets in some other class, by far,” stated Bezos. “Music is No. 2 — there are about 200,000 lively music CDs at any given time. But in the e book area, there are over 3 million totally different books worldwide lively in print at any given time throughout all languages, [and] greater than 1.5 million in English alone.”

When Bezos launched Amazon in 1994, the web and e-commerce business had been nonetheless of their earliest phases. He knew it could take a while earlier than on-line purchasing grew to become ubiquitous, he stated, so he wished to begin with a idea that could not be replicated by a vendor with solely bodily places.

“When you have got that many gadgets, you may actually construct a retailer on-line that could not exist some other means,” he defined. “That’s vital proper now, as a result of the net remains to be an toddler expertise. Basically, proper now, if you are able to do issues utilizing a extra conventional methodology, you most likely ought to do them utilizing the conventional methodology.”

Still, Bezos hinted at the firm’s potential for growth, noting that “we’re transferring ahead in so many various areas.”

“This is Day 1,” he added. “This is the very starting. This is the Kittyhawk stage of digital commerce.”

‘This is the very starting’ — parallels between the web and AI

Bezos’ feedback throughout the web’s infancy echo the means tech leaders at this time discuss synthetic intelligence. That consists of the Amazon founder himself, who’s at present backing a $520 million AI-powered web search startup that goals to take on tech giants like Google.

“We’re at the starting of a golden age of AI,” Bezos said in a 2019 statement. “Recent developments have already led to invention that beforehand lived in the realm of science fiction — and we have solely scratched the floor of what is attainable.”

Much like in the web’s early days, there isn’t any set roadmap for AI’s future growth — solely a mixture of optimism and cautiousness from many tech luminaries.

Bill Gates has in contrast AI to nuclear power, for instance — calling each applied sciences “promising and harmful” in a 2019 speech. More lately, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s dramatic departure and return to his firm final yr reportedly stemmed from boardroom concerns over profit-chasing at the expense of AI security.

Even Bezos, who’s decidedly pro-AI, acknowledges its potential dangers. Still, he believes it’s going to assist humanity construct “higher medicines and higher instruments to develop extra applied sciences,” he told podcaster Lex Fridman in December.

“Even in the face of all this uncertainty, my very own view is that these highly effective instruments are more likely to assist us and save us, even, than they’re to, on steadiness, harm us and destroy us,” Bezos stated.

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