Do you know why Jeff Bezos decided to sell books, and not CDs, online 22 years ago? A rediscovered 1997 video has revealed why the richest man of Earth chose books over CDs to be Amazon’s first product.
Rediscovered by analyst Brian Roemmele and shared on Twitter, the video shows a young Bezos speaking during a 1997 “Special Libraries Conference”.
“I picked books as the first best product to sell online, making a list of like 20 different products that you might be able to sell.
“Books were great as the first best because books are incredibly unusual in one respect, that is that there are more items in the book category than there are items in any other category by far.
“Music is number two, there are about 200,000 active music CDs at any given time. But in the book space, there are over 3 million different books worldwide active in print at any given time across all languages, more than 1.5 million in English alone. So when you have that many items you can literally build a store online that couldn’t exist any other way,” Bezos says in the video.
The Amazon founder and CEO who is worth $110 billion today said Amazon was able to capture people’s attention by giving them something that had real value – an online marketplace that made shopping easy.
“The June 1997 video is notable too because just a month earlier, Amazon went public for only $18 a share. As of yesterday’s close, Amazon was worth $1,778 per share,” TechRepublic reported on Wednesday.
Not just selling books online, Amazon has 526 physical retail locations globally, including 19 Amazon Books stores.
The company opened its first physical book store in Seattle’s University shopping centre in 2015.
The first location in Seattle had approximately 5,000 titles stocked on its bookshelves, using shelf space to display the covers of books facing outwards instead of spines.
According to Amazon, the decision was made to showcase the authors and their work, rather than efficient use of space.
The store also sells Amazon electronics, including the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, Kindle Fire tablet series, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Fire TV.