Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Jeff Bezos Named Time Person of the Year 213

doomy writes "A pretty stunning story hit Associated Press's wire today. Apparently Jeff "king of cybercommerce" Bezos of fame would be named the Time Magazines's person of the year. The same wire states that Amazon was loosing millions of dollars while this award was given." I've stopped shopping at Amazon personally. Until they drop their lame patent stuff, I figure they don't want my business.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jeff Bezos named Time Magazines person of the Year

Comments Filter:
  • What did this person contribute to society, other than a place to buy books at fair prices conveniently over the internet?

    i think you're missing the most important thing that's going on here. bezos is one of the most high profile members of the group of people that have fundamentally changed the economy and the dynamics of the flow of information.

    the economy has changed on several key levels in the larger field that bezos is shaping (with others). first of all, we're moving towards a service oriented society, and the increasing IT/IS infrastructure is a combination of service and products. this is part of the larger shift in american economics from a production society to a service society. secondly, on the economic front, think about the amazing amount of wealth funneled into the hands of younger and younger people. FORE, Inc., was recently bought out, and secretaries could retire on the money from their resulting stock options. never before have we seen such a resulting shift of money so fast, and such vast amounts as well. bezos and lie at the heart of this revolution.

    in terms of the flow of information, it has done two major things. first of all, it has shifted the power from those that hold and dole out information to those that seek it. we've gone from a supply based system to a demand based one. this is about as fundamental a shift as the invention of the printing press. the dot coms also lie at the heart of this radical, sweeping change. the second thing is that it has liberated access to information. think about the stuff you now get to read each morning. i get to read everything from science journals that my university doesn't get to intelligence reports that woul normally be difficult to get. i'm sure you're in the same boat, having unparalleled access to information. again, the dot coms have helped to shape and provide this revolution.

    frankly, i think it would have been better to have a person like dyson or someone else who played such a fundamental role in shaping the current internet if they wanted to honor that, but that's just me. but then again i think the century was shaped by far more important people on all levels.

  • by Karma Sucks ( 127136 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @08:02AM (#1461556)
    click here []
  • Everyone with the power, keep on moderating this to the top. It's the first thought come into my mind when I read Taco's comment.


  • I know that I am going to get flamed for this but lets try to be fair and mature about it. Good ol Bill "the evil tycoon" Gates donated billions to charity this year. While I dont agree with some of M$'s business tactics, I respect Bill Gates for this.

    I don't know. Some of Bill's donations have been "billions of dollars worth of MS software", not actual cash.


  • Yeah, when did it become such a challenge to spell this word? I'm getting tired of all the "lucing" being done on /. by those "lucers".
  • > I think the great untold story of the late 20th
    > century is how money replaced war as a way of keeping
    > score.

    In the last decade alone: Rwanda, Kosovo, Chechnaya.

    The twenty-first century has got nothing for me. Jeff Bezos is the perfect symbol of it; money uber alles, robotic greed without limits, backed with cruise missiles. The twenty-first century will be Hell on Earth.

    Yours WDK -

  • It's LOSING YOU IDIOTS! They are not LOOSING millions or there would be a riot as the public ran around filling their pockets with loose dollars. Repeat after me: whenever I think of writing "loosing" I will write "losing", because unless you're writing "loosing the dogs of hell" or somesuch there's bloody well no use for "loosing".

  • noticed that many of the books have links to fatbrain.

    I stopped buying at Amazon when I got their clueless response to my complaints on purchase circles. I've also been watching the book reviews here on /.

    A look at the current book review shows that all but one point to fatbrain, and the exception is to a book not carried by any of the big sellers.

    To those criticizing Cmdr. Taco for 'hypocrisy', it helps to have a shred of facts before lighting the flamethrowers..... BTW, the ACs who were most vehement, sure showing your moral courage.

  • He knows that customer service rules the web, so he works his employees hard as hell. He wants fast responses to emails and such. One guy got fired for spending too much time on a single customer--fuck quality. He expects his employees to be rah rah about this, too. He had a "slumber party" of responding to emails. Sounds like a damn dictatorship. I will use amazon to get information about a book, but I'll buy it elsewhere.

    Charles Spitzig
  • Time has name some real twerps as "Man of the Year"

    Didn't "Time" name Adolf Hitler as "Man of the Year" sometime in the 30's? I would like to know how they select these people. Interesting styles of facial hair, perhaps? Or maybe "People most likely to do something nasty to a large number of people in the next few years and embarrass Time magazine again." Invading Poland. Newt Gingrich, nuff said. Stupid patents. I'm sure there's many more....
  • Fatbrian, unfortunately, promotes spam. I've gotten advertisment mail from them on addresses that I NEVER use except to reply to user questions,and no one from fatbrain has ever contacted me via those addys. Other people have complained as well. So no one's hands are exactly clean in this mess...
  • by Coda ( 22101 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @01:34PM (#1461567) Homepage
    I'm getting sick of hearing people froth at the mouth over this.

    "But they're suing over a blah blah blah," you're gonna say. Yes, they are. But who are they suing? Barnes & Noble.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend, the saying goes, and I agree. I don't like Barnes & Noble, and here's why:
    • They tried to buy Ingram Book Company, a wholesale book retailer. This would mean that thousands of independent book stores (the kind I like) would be dependent on B&N (their competitor) for books.
    • The American Booksellers Association and two dozen independent booksellers have filed suit against B&N, contending that B&N "engaged in a pattern and practice of soliciting, inducing, and receiving secret, discriminatory, and illegal terms from publishers and distributors."
    • B&N open up huge stores in strip malls, which are institutions I cannot support. doesn't do this.
    "Yes," you're gonna say, "but if Amazon wins, then they can sue anyone over this with precedent."

    But why would they? B&N is a direct competitor and tried to buy out's main supplier. Amazon would have filed suit against B&N for *anything*. Yes, this is a stupid lawsuit, and it's a stupid patent, and all the rest. Fix the sickness, not the symptoms: reform the Patent Office.

    I guess what really bugs me is that everyone's getting themselves worked up into a frenzy over this and not something more important. Patent lawsuits don't kill people, nor do they give people cancer. This is corporate warfare and it doesn't involve individuals.

    What's a better topic for us to get riled about? Shit, kids, take your pick: But no, we have our panties in a twist because big, bad is suing someone over a stupid patent.

    I'm willing to boycott them and *all* big companies if an independent company is there to provide the same services with minimal price impact.

    So, instead of flaming me and calling me a lackey shill and anal consort of The Man, how about offering solutions? Fatbrain [] sells most books that I want (ie, all the books I've bought in the past month or so). That's good. Where's a socially-responsible place I can buy CDs from?

    See, shopping at Whitey & The Man Bookstore in lieu of Amazon isn't good, it just provides yet another stupid company with incentive to continue their stupid tactics. If you're going to boycott for patent issues, you shouldn't jump in the lap of another fucked up company.

    If you really want to fuck over Amazon, use their webpage to pick out books (based on user reviews, etc.), then buy the books at You get the community and the karma. Woo hoo.

    So... what non-stupid online CD stores are there?

    [BTW, I haven't read *any* comments offering alternatives to Amazon. You're never going to get a boycott to work if you don't offer alternatives.]

  • The overall spirit of Slashdot is for just about everybody to express their opinion (though I'm all in favor of squashing the speech rights of the First Posters ;) ). If CmdrTaco feels strongly one way or the other about Amazon, I'd prefer that he didn't force his ideas upon us by removing the link willy-nilly. Linking to Amazon is done in the interest of generating $$. If the majority of Slashdot users don't want to deal with Amazon, then they can choose so by not following the link-throughs. Vote with your feet.

    One may argue that there should be more bookseller links on the page (fatbrain, bookpool, etc.), and I'd be all in favor of this, but I don't think CmdrTaco needs to specifically address or apologize for having Amazon links.

  • Bravo- though I don't think Allan Greenspan himself is necessarily a big deal, the office that he holds has radically changed economics. Most people don't even realize the power he holds. Great Paul Krugman paraphrased quote: "You want to know a simple formula for what the rate of unemployment will be in the next year? IT will exactly what Allan Greenspan wants it to be, plus or minus a tiny fraction of the fact that he is not quite God."
    It's amazing the number of economic debates that are totally clueless on this point. When all the NAFTA discussions were going on, people kept harping on the jobs issue. But their Neo-Keynsian analysis is simply irrelevant in a world in which a cental bank sets interest rates.
  • >
    Just had to say, love the Latin.
    "Amazon must be destroyed"
    hehe... ok bye now.
  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @01:46PM (#1461574)
    "So what if he's losing money."

    Well, basically, it's all a matter of when. If I started back in 1980 before almost anyone had anything "online" I'd obviously not make a profit. But should investors back me through 2 decades of negative profit, even if I could start paying off in 2002? It's an economic decision, and perhpas their money could have been spent more prouctively somewhere else. So it might be that Amazon is simply being held afloat because investors WANT to hold it afloat, not necessarily for any rational reason, not because its a good bussiness, but because they hope it will be someday. Essentailly, by unwriting their below markt book prices, they are artificially subsidizing a bussiness that could have never survived on its own in a real market. That may be a fair gamble, but keep in mind that the money COULD have gone into other things that might be more productive NOW, and when Amazon's time really did come, they could have invested in it then. What's going on isn't about making wise economic decisions now, it's about trying to second guess the future to make money. Just keep that in mind before anyone starts trumpeting this guy's acheivement. All he's done is coninced investors that he's a good bet- he hasn't proven that he is yet. I could start and sell video games at super reduced prices and be very popular, but that wouldn't make me worth artificaly supporting.
  • Also keep inmind that TIME is a complete fluff magazine now- it's essentially like Reader's Digest, except more insiduous. Every three months they have some kooky cover story about Angels. Oh, that's breaking news. And what they did with the recent Columbine article was both journaliztically unethical and downright sickening. I wouldn't trust them to pick Man of Anything, much less of the Century or the Year.
  • To those criticizing Cmdr. Taco for 'hypocrisy', it helps to have a shred of facts before lighting the flamethrowers..... BTW, the ACs who were most vehement, sure showing your moral courage.

    The current book reviews all may point to Fatbrain, but there is also the fact that the large lists of suggested reading [] all point to

    Like other readers I'm more willing to accept a simple oversight rather than hypocracy, but now that it's been pointed out, I'd really like to see it changed.
  • The man of the year thing has never been a popularity contest exactly, Ayatollah Khomeni (sp??) was man of the year once (real bitchin Brad Holland cover too) as well as a number of other people you might not want to invite for dinner.

    It isn't about popularity, it is about influence. Bezos is the single most visible proponent of e-commerce which virtually didn't exist three years ago, and is set to put a big dent in conventional retail this Christmas season.

    Sure they are losing money, and they may well tank completely given time, but they(he) have set the paradigm for online business and captured the popular imagination with respect to technology to a greater extent than anyone since Apple, MS, or Netscape.
  • by Firinne ( 43280 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @08:06AM (#1461579)
    Man (or Woman, or Thing) of the Year is generally given to the most influential person of the past year, positive or negative. Now, Bezos may be a hyper freak, but he has built up Amazon from the ground up into the Internet's first real Super Store, and proved to most of the brick-and-mortar types that e-commerce could really work. E-commerce, and hence Amazon and Bezos, have really revolutionized the way people think of doing business.

    And so what if he's losing money... So was AOHell all those years, and now they're raking in the money hand over fist. As Garry Trudeau once said, "If you're not losing a lot of money, you're not being aggressive enough."

    On a personal note, I know it's not what a lot of people here want to hear, but I almost won't shop at any place but Amazon. I've had really bad experiences with Barnes & Noble in the past, and while I haven't given much of a try yet, they don't have the selection and variety of Amazon. So far I've been completely satisfied with Amazon's prices and customer service.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I recall correctly, they named him the "Most Influential" person of the year, not "Man of the Year".
  • This is pretty disgusting. I think this makes a pretty obvious statement, that all you have to do to be "man of the year" in the eyes of the media is make loads of cash.

    Seriously what did he really do to deserve this "honor". I wish Time would stop rewarding business skills and commercialism, and start honoring innovation and integrity.

    It seems that they just wanted someone to capture the spirit of the digital revolution, and some clueless journalist just picked some ass out of the air, a name that people would recognize.

    I know that I am going to get flamed for this but lets try to be fair and mature about it. Good ol Bill "the evil tycoon" Gates donated billions to charity this year. While I dont agree with some of M$'s business tactics, I respect Bill Gates for this.

    I think Time should make that "I kiss you guy" guy man of the year, just out of spite.

    P.S. Happy Holidays :)

  • by The Welcome Rain ( 31576 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @08:10AM (#1461583)

    Clearly, Time meant to give the nod to Larry Wall, without whose efforts Amazon would still be working on their first C++ prototype. Not that Amazon has given a thing back to the Perl community...

    I have informed them of their accidental error; I'm sure they'll correct it shortly. :)


  • Factual correction: Auschwitz, the concentration camp in the Polish city of Oswiecim, was NOT formed in 1939. The first transport of Jews headed for Auschwitz was shipped from Tarnow on July 14, 1940.
  • TIME selects its person of the year by choosing who has made the most news in the past year. Good or bad makes no difference: what matters is how much news relates to said person. Hence, it is no wonder that Ken Starr and Bill Clinton were chosen for last year's award -- there was no doubt. All that news may not have been good, but they made a LOT of news.

    While I'm not absolutely certain of this nomination myself, I myself can't think of anyone who would particularly be more deserving of the award for this year, except possibly the Department of Justice. That's a whole group, though, rather than an individual, and most people don't hear as much news about the case as slashdotters do.

    This is why TIME would consider naming Hitler for man of the century. World War II has had outstanding impact on the world since it begun, and moreover, continues to to this very day. I doubt anyone (rational) at TIME would say what Hitler did was a good thing. He sure as hell made a lot of news, however. Thus, don't go thinking that TIME is championing Bezos as the pioneer of e-commerce.

    -- Stargazer

  • Give Amazon enough time, and they'll probably try to patent this as well. I've never purchased anything from them, and because I disagree with this patent, I won't start.

    Bezos claims that other sites should "innovate" and not "copy". What Amazon has done, however, is no different from all of the domain name speculators that have purchased (or reserved) untold thousands of domain names, and are attempting to re-sell them at rediculous prices. This isn't a question of innovation, it's *only* a question of "who got there first," and there's *nothing* innovative about it. I think Bezos would do well to learn the difference between innovation and opportunism.

  • I was going to moderate your otherwise insightful article up, until I read your reference to "Whitey 'n the Man". I don't care what your racial background it, that's no more appropriate than other racial slurs and I'm tired of seeing it.
  • in terms of the flow of information, it has done two major things. first of all, it has shifted the power from those that hold and dole out information to those that seek it. we've gone from a supply based system to a demand based one. this is about as fundamental a shift as the invention of the printing press. the dot coms also lie at the heart of this radical, sweeping change. the second thing is that it has liberated access to information. think about the stuff you now get to read each morning. i get to read everything from science journals that my university doesn't get to intelligence reports that woul normally be difficult to get. i'm sure you're in the same boat, having unparalleled access to information. again, the dot coms have helped to shape and provide this revolution.

    Uh... You could easily attribute the entire sentence above to the Internet alone, with no direct reference to Amazon/Bezos. Do you compliment the surfer for creating the wave?

    Saying that Jeff Bezos brought the information revolution is similar to saying that Bill Gates invented DOS. Both of them simply marketed the idea/product well, that's all. Also, the fact that Jeff is a "cool guy" really should have no bearing on this award.

    I personally would not be surprised to learn that Amazon "bought" this award.

  • No, they shouldn't. Although I don't have first hand information, by all reports Mr. Bezos *is* a man. Furthermore, it would be entirely correct usage to prefer the masculine gender when speaking of a group, or even (as in the case of "Man of the Year") a non-specific exemplar. We are all "man" in the sense of "mankind", and there is nothing the least bit sexist about that.

    It would be appropriate for Time to title the award "Woman of the Year" if the recipient of the Man of the Year honor is female, but naming anyone (man or woman) "Person of the Year" is insulting and degrading, and is really no better than "Primate of the Year", "Throbbing Glob of Protoplasm of the Year" or other inanities.

    It's about time to squash this "PC" nonsense, and give both Men and Women the recognition they deserve rather than stripping them of their sex to pacify radically twisted whiners.

    [flame off - I feel better now...]
  • This whole "Man of the Year" thing reminded me of this article [] that appeared on the Onion this week. Enjoy!
  • Not really certain exactly what you mean by "more profitable" in this case. Even if the profit margin is theoretically higher for OS/apps, it'll all come down to volume eventually, and there is a far higher volume potential in generic online retailing then there is in OS/apps development. Especially considering the advances you can expect to see as far as online sales to international markets. Amazon's market cap is not justified by it's volume presently, but by expectations for what that volume COULD be if Amazon plays it's cards right. There has never been a better chance for one company to take control of such a large share of such a potentially huge market, and this is what drives investors to take the risk. Ultimately, we'll just have to wait and see...
  • Shouldn't they change that to "Person of the Year" these days to be politically correct?
  • Yeah, but isn't that what fucking Rosie O'Donald did when she refused to do any more KMart TV Ads unless they stopped selling guns! It's bullshit. Maybe she's afraid someone will mistake her for a fat goose this Christmas!
  • So you would say that folks like Jeff Bezos are responsible for Rwanda, Kosovo and/or Chechnaya?

    I believe that repressive government actions are rather prominent in all three places, and that they have nothing to do with greed or business.


  • ...that is quite a success. No other on-line store has gotten so much publicity and (in)fame. Shame about the idiotic patent, though...
    (first?) :

  • The same wire states that Amazon was loosing millions of dollars while this award was given.

    Will somebody PLEASE inform the American wetback that it is spelled "losing", not "loosing".

    This misspelling occurs with such frequency that you'd swear they were teaching it that way in school.
  • Then I would just ask you, if there is no sexism, then how come there's never been a "woman of the year"?

  • this is haiku
    fuck moderator
    moderate me down

    this is haiku
    amazon blows
    i like cheese
  • by ewoods ( 108845 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @08:11AM (#1461606)
    I sent them a nice email telling them that I will not use Amazon until they give up this silly patent stuff. Here is their response.

    Thank you for writing to

    The patent system is designed to encourage innovation, and we spent thousands of hours developing our 1-Click® shopping feature. This feature securely stores billing and shipping information so that returning customers need only click their mouse once, without re-entering or re-confirming that information, to purchase selected items conveniently.

    In recognition of the innovative and unique nature of the 1-Click® technology, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Patent No. 5,960,411 to on September 28, 1999.

    We're pleased that the court recognized the innovation underlying our 1-Click® feature by granting a preliminary injunction barring from using it while our suit is pending.

    I hope you'll understand that we are unable to discuss this case any further as we are currently in litigation. Thank you for taking the time to share your views with us.

    Best regards,

    Erik J. Macki
    Happy Holidays from
    Earth's Biggest Selection
  • KZ Auschwitz was (and is) in Poland so it was built later. KZ Dachau was in the village of the same name on the edge of Munich and had existed for years before 1939.

    I suppose you could say that it was justified in the sense that he did have a huge influence on world affairs. How often did FDR (comparison: influence, nothing more) get it?
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    I disagree. What would you do differently in their shoes? It's easy to criticize something, it's alot harder to come up with a better solution.
  • This isn't really that accurate. Right now most net stocks are 50% off their 52 week highs. If it was last April when all the stocks were high flying, I would agree with you. Amazon, funny enoug, is only about 20% off its 52 week high.

    Really, this is the year (smart) people realized net stocks were not a sound investment because the price of competition is low and will drive profit margins down.

    This is more likely the year of hardware providers, the only people actually making money on the internet.
  • Way back when Taco started with the Amazon links, it was just so he could get free books and music, which was just fine considering he was a starving student. Of course, now we can safely assume he's RICH, with no fiscal reason whatsoever to keep the Amazon links, and he's had since RMS's announcement to remove them.

    Personally, I don't blindly subscribe to whatever RMS yowls about. I don't appreciate Amazon's patent, but B&N and every other megacorp chain are further entrenched and WORSE than Amazon IMO.

    What bothers me is the gross and blatant hypocrisy of Taco to make such a statement while he continues to lead people to Amazon through his own high-traffic site.

  • When Jeff went to expand into electronics and all that other stuff, some of us here on ./ wondered if he wasn't getting Bill Gates-itis. Here in the last few weeks those same people have been proven right with the Barnes and Noble fiasco.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, Time Warner is an organization which is about the kind of power that Bill Gates wields, only more subtly and more pervasively.... the same kind of power that Jeff Bezos aspires to. Time Warner, if you remember, was the one who, seeing Ted Turner as a threat to their empire, simply bought him out.... and turned CNN from the best damn news outfit on the planet into just yet another media shill for Big Brother.

    And now they promote Jeff Bezos, a man who turned out to be one of their own. No, I don't think he's on a par with Hitler; neither is Bill Gates, for that matter. I do think, however, that both men engage in some extremely slimy business practices, beyond illegal and into the just plain ethically wrong, and that both men's empires deserve to be brought low, if not by the courts, then by the power of the people voting with their feet.

    There are alternatives, folks. Use'em.

    Taco, put your money where your mouth is. Get rid of the Amazon box. (does the damn thing REALLY generate that much revenue?) And tell Jeff why. This madness has got to stop, here, now, and by our hands. If not now, when? If not us, who?

    Delenda est Amazon.
  • I think a lot of people will disagree with you that the '1-click' patent is a minor issue. I certainly do. It's idiotic to actually believe it's morally right to be able to patent software. Copyright, well that's argueable. Patent? Be serious. To actually sue another company for infringement is even more despicable.
  • actually, I believe the "small GIF formatted graphic using the word 'Go' in a sans serif font" is a trademarked logo, not a patent.
  • Wow, Think about the whole picture first before you becom a hater. There are to many hater's in this world. Jeff has created an online catalog with millions and millions of product that can be easily searched, researched, reviewed, and purchased, from you home. Considering the history of the world, YES is pretty damn amazing. I personaly don't care for time magazine, and would have to agree that they are cashing in on the tech hype. "Man of the year" is just a phrase that doesn't mean to much to me, but I do think that Jeff has done some pretty amazing stuff.
  • >TIME is a complete fluff magazine now- it's essentially like Reader's Digest

    No, TIME is not what it once was. But then, neither is Reader's Digest. It is still a race for ultimate blandness, and the rubes from Pleasantville still lead the New Yorkers by a considerable margin.
  • You need to try If it's books you're after, they've got that. Computer equip, home stereo, music, etc. I've had good luck dealing with them in the past, and have even found a couple of specials on their site that have really kicked ass. I think that is much better than amazon, as far as e-commerce goes. However, I'm still waiting for a massive e-commerce site that is powered solely by Linux & Apache. Even Netscrape's products are questionable these days. Especially since Netscrape can't seem to get that communicator 5.0 out.
  • I refuse to use the word e-commerce Amazon remains the gold standard for an e-commerce site 1999 certainly is the explosion of "e-commerce."
  • Actually, looking at the agreement in the books section, it appears to be nothing more than an associates agreement. The associates terms and conditions includes the following line in section 11:

    Either you or we may terminate this Agreement at any time, with or without cause, by giving the other party written notice of termination.

    So slashdot is under no obligation to continue to supplying links to
  • by ErikZ ( 55491 )
    Well, I see alot of negitive comments, not just about Time's choice for 'Man of the year', but about the whole 'Man of the year' proccess.

    Why don't we have our own 'Man of the year' thread here on Slashdot? Set it up the same way interview questions are set up. And change the name to someting a bit more gender neutral while we're at it.

    The only rule I can think of is the canidate must be currently alive. Oh, and lets also have 2nd and third place too!

    This could be cool.

    Erik Z
  • Ohh, I'd support this -- the deletion of the Amazon slashbox and informing why it was done. Maybe we could have a poll on Slashdot whether this should be done?
  • Well, if you havn't noticed.. jeff is working on a NEW VENTURE []. They plan on re-inventing just-in-time inventory systems.

    The competition, is heating up though.


  • I don't get it. Aren't there a lot of SUCCESSFUL e-commerce ventures? Last time I checked, Amazon was still deep in the red. How this was an easy decision, I don't know. Wait, yes I do. It's a bunch of half-assed "journalists" at TIME.

    I no longer shop at Amazon because they are cowards. They gave in to pressure from the American Family Association (Read: right-wing extortionists) and pulled their advertising from the Howard Stern Show several months ago. They also apparently treat 90% of their employees like dirt. Must be nice making near-minimum wage for the "company of the year"......
  • Patents might be a free source of ideas, but you definitely can't use the ideas for your own benifit -- well, you can, but you'll likely have to pay a rather large sum of money to the patent holder. And if you happen to be a competitor of the patent holder, that sum of money might just be more than you can afford...

    I notice your URL and email indicate Cuba, so you might not have to face the same reality that those of us in the US and Canada (I believe) do. Or does the US have an agreement of some sort with Cuba?

    It's really a shame that the patent system is so messed up (abused?). I'm a CS student in Canada, and am just starting to realize how much potential there is for getting screwed by the big companies (who have the $$ to manipulate the system -- I'm getting by on student loans right now). I wish I knew more about this stuff, so I could avoid litigation later in life.
  • "The two depend on each other."

    I hate to say this, but that just doesn't make sense to me. is, as far as I know, not deploying its own army, nor is it attempting to influence our government to fight. Furthermore, I see absolutely no reason why it would want to do either of those things.

    I think the great untold story of the late 20th century is how money replaced war as a way of keeping score. Germany is no longer attacking its neighbors; it's building Mercedes-Benz cars instead. Japan is not bombing Pearl Harbour; it's sending us cars and consumer electronics. And the countries resorting to military force are the ones behind, not the ones ahead.

    I would concede that we sometimes have wars over things such as oil supplies and the like, but compared to the "good old days" where men were men, women were women, and terrifying percentages of us died, I rather like our current world.


  • 'The National League of Junior Cotillions has named Bill Gates the "best-mannered" person of 1999, citing "his example of generosity and humility."'
    check out this blurb [] for a little more.

    Whoever the National League of Junior Cotillions is.
  • I recently priced a series of papaerbacks for a gift for a friend, and shipping from any of the online bookstores would have been about 20% of the total price in the end, which wasn't okay at all. If any store in town had them, I would have gladly driven over, bought them the same day, and paid no shipping other than my own transportation.
  • Totally offtopic but just clarifing something:

    Actually The CUBA part is just something these guys are toying with.As you can see their URL ends in .nl (As does mine) It's holland or the NetherLands. They're a bunch of guys interested in smoking weed and hacking the phonesystem. Nothing too interesting. (IMHO of course) ;-)

    Follow the link if you want to, it's all in english (Most of it anyway)
  • Breast is BEST for babies!
  • by Savage Henry Matisse ( 94615 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @09:04AM (#1461645) Homepage
    When without loss of blood he reduced Czechoslovakia to a German puppet state, forced a drastic revision of Europe's defensive alliances, and won a free hand for himself in Eastern Europe by getting a "hands-off" promise from powerful Britain (and later France), Adolf Hitler without doubt became 1938's Man of the Year [].
    -Time Magazine, Jan 2, 1939.
  • Don't forget, he was on Oprah, too!! (the show, I mean)

    Seriously -- what did he do that was so inovative/important/interesting? He runs a bookstore, people! Sure, he sells the books differently, and some other bookstores now do the same thing (B&N, Fatbrain, Chapters, the corner bookstore, ...). So he gets his lawyers to do some "marketplace manipulation". Sounds like the dream that is Amazon can't hack it...

    My Economics prof told us a story the other day that was interesting. I'll probably mess up the numbers/terminology a bit, but the essence is the same:
    For Amazon stocks to produce a rate of return that matches their value, the company would need to increase revenues by 30% per year for ten years.
    Does anyone have info to support, refute or elaborate on this?
    Thought that was interesting.
  • Actually it was in 1939. Time's "Man of the Year" is NOT "Best Man of the Year". It's supposed to showcase the most influential person of that year. If you look back at 1939, it was most certainly Hitler's year.
  • sells books. So as long as they keep doing a good job, carrying a wide selection, and offering me arms and legs of retail price, I will continue to be a customer. To not support them because of a petty patent squabble is the real disgrace, in my eyes.
  • They definitely /are/ cheaper. They were charging $14 for the hardcover edition of The Power Broker by Robert Caro - while everyone else was at around $28-35.

    On the other hand, I really love the amazon shopping ambiance, with the great customer reviews and so on. It's hard to duplicate that on another site.

    Personally, I think the one-click suit is (perhaps even somewhat justified) revenge against B&N's suit over "Earth's Biggest Bookstore" slogan. Because of that prior suit I frankly find it a bit hard to get upset at amazon.


  • Give Amazon enough time, and they'll probably try to patent this as well

    Not if someone beets him to the punch. /. uses moderation. hmmm....
  • Unfortunately, stores like Stacey's are getting increasingly rare in the age of the online bookstore and the "book superstore" as exemplified by Barnes & Noble. Between, and, they have pretty much wiped out the small independent bookseller in a large fraction of this country. I'm not even sure if Stacey's can even survive with the online plus "book superstore" onslaught of the last four years.
  • I don't like amazon because I like being able to see what I am buying before I pay for it. Any money I send Amazon's way is not going to locally owned bookstores, or at least to a chain bookstore that at least bothers to put up a showroom near to me. If we put the showrooms out of business, then I am in trouble.

    On the other hand, amazon puts up a really interesting cross-reference service. Sure its full of hype, but its still useful to me.

    I thought it kind of strange to whine about the one-click patent in the same breath as noting that amazon is still losing money. A patent for one-click was awarded to amazon, and amazon is trying to use that patent for exactly the purpose that patents were designed for, presumably in hopes of slowing down that leak, and maybe someday becoming profitable.

    The idea that they got such a patent in the first place is the part that is seemingly absurd. Why do you guys want to swat wasps one at a time instead of going after the nest: the US legal and patent systems?

  • Amazon is nothing more than a web interface to an inventory control system, that may be spread over numerous warehouses.

    Well, that with a billing/shipping function, and a bit of marketing.
  • To play devil's advocate a bit about the patent situation...

    Isn't it part of being in big business to do whatever you can to ensure your market share? I mean if the patent office is willing to give amazon a patent for one click shopping then more power to amazon for thinking of it! If you disagree with this being a patentable idea then blame the patent office not amazon...

  • ...therefore, if you dislike Amazon, the most damaging thing you could do is buy A LOT of books from them. In fact, RMS's call for a boycott really ends up saving money.

  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @09:30AM (#1461656) Homepage

    This is still off-topic, but I feel compelled to try and clear this up some...Hitler got MOTY because they thought he was a great leader, not just because he was influential. This sounds ridiculous, but consider the situation.

    First off, one of the problems throughout the war was that virtually no one actually read his book, Mein Kampf--and you'd know why if you ever tried (I did back in HS German...entirely aside from the content, it's a terribly written book: dry, boring, and rambling). Second, he did have an (apparently) good effect on Germany. The trains ran on time, crime dropped to negligible amounts, the ludicrous amounts of inflation were throttled way back, etc.

    Add to this the fact that people didn't want to believe anything different (remember appeasement?) because the world was very tired of war, and it's easy to see how a magazine could give the award to Hitler. Really, even after the Final Solution was in place, and the knowledge of the horrors of concentration camps was "public," people still didn't really believe it. It wasn't until very late in the war that photographs were leaked, and they literally stunned the world. AFAIK, most American GI's liberating the camps didn't believe what he was doing until they saw it.

  • Can someone put up a fsck Amazon counter on a page somewhere?

    I'll bet that anyone reading this thread would click through to register a hit.

    It would be interesting to see how many people share the same thought, without requiring actual text to be typed by those (dis)interested.

  • Bezos is an e-commerce symbol, nothing more nothing less.

    and I'd say that's having a tiny impact on todays society.

  • Wow, a rational post on /. This must be a first. I agree, Amazon has great customer service, excellent selection, good prices, (and I don't have to pay and damn taxes on my transaction), what more could I want.

    Some people get all caught up on these patent issues or whatever, but thankfully those people are in the minority. This is the way the game is played folks, and whining about it doesn't change things.

    Good job Jeff. Keep up the good work.
  • First off, Time has name some real twerps as "Man of the Year", such as Newt Gingrich not so long ago. He served his wife divorce papers when she was dying in the hospital of ovarian cancer. Nice guy right?

    As for CmdrTaco, I challenge thee in asking whether you have stopped banner ads on Slashdot because DoubleClick has tried to patent online advertisng. Boycotts of stores with sufficient reason are warranted, and although it is obviously a person decision, I haven't stopped buying from amazon just because their lawyers did something stupid.

    Bezos is an innovator and a smart businessman. I'd agree that he might deserve the award this year, seeing as ecommerce sales have tripled this holiday season.

    Lastly, the New York Times Sunday 12/19 edition (today) in the Business section has a very interesting piece on why ecommerce players like amazon and eToys lose money on every order.

  • Why is it that as soon as a company gets big, everyone takes up some sort of holy crusade (redundant, I know :P~~) against it? What has Bezos done to you? So he's engaged in a ludicrous patent lawsuit--big deal. Frankly, that's the court system's fault, and the lawmaker's fault, for providing a forum where that's a reasonable thing to do.

    The business of business is business...if Amazon sees a way to protect something that makes them money, they're going to do it. If you think that's wrong, help change the law that provides the protection.

    Fix the problem, not the symptom. Complaining about a company trying to profit from the way the system is set up is not only ineffective, it's juvenile and simply silly. The whole concept of corporation is to make a profit off the way the system is set up. You don't like it, change the system. Putting Amazon out of business is just going to lose a lot of people jobs, and make finding cheap books online harder. Someone else will just take up the same patent battle over some other "invention," and then everyone will want to put them out of business.

    Taco, put your money where your mouth is. Get rid of the Amazon box. (does the damn thing REALLY generate that much revenue?) And tell Jeff why. This madness has got to stop, here, now, and by our hands. If not now, when? If not us, who?
    Does this strike anyone else as ludicrously melodramatic?

  • I was kind of thinking about this. Because of Amazon's size/popularity, I was also attempting to compare Amazon to Microsoft. Though they both might be well-known and influential, there's one KEY difference - it's very difficult to simply stop using one operating system in favor of another. Because computers, AND the manner in which they are used are so ingrained into a company's protocol, a such a change would not be a minor undertaking.

    On the other hand, Amazon doesn't have it anywhere near as well - it might be in the limelight now, but it's so easy to type "" or "" instead of "". That in itself could represent a real threat, and as such, it would be in Amazon's best interest to be a good citizen. Amazon may have brand recognition, but because it's so easy to switch (and the products among booksellers are identical), I'm not sure it means as much as it once did. We'll see how much Amazon's patent is really worth once people figure out that clicking one or two more times to order something isn't that big a deal.

  • Support an independent bookstore: Powell's Books [] in Portland, Oregon, USA.

    No, I don't work there or have any connection with them, other than being a regular customer.

  • True, we all die eventually.

    But a lot fewer of us die in wars, and I think that's an uncontestably Good Thing.


  • The agreement that Slashdot has with Amazon is most likely the very non-binding Associates program. You put links to their wares from your site, and when people select those by clicking through from your site, they get a kickback on those items. You can end your association program by simply removing the links from your pages. I'm willing to give people a poke and a chance before using the "H" word. I know how easy it is to have twelve things going at once and simply FORGET one of them. May I suggest that those in command here choose the Associates program from Borders, or another company they don't have a beef with.
  • Actually, I just checked in the book section and noticed that many of the books have links to fatbrain. I think they were originally amazon links. Nice.
  • and I'd say that's having a tiny impact on todays society.

    As would I. In retrospect, I'm not terribly surprised that some e-commerce/Internet/Web guy got it. But, you're right - in the grand scheme of things, e-commerce hasn;t changed a whole lot of anything.
  • by Savage Henry Matisse ( 94615 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:27AM (#1461695) Homepage
    Bear in mind that Time named Adolf Hitler man of the year in the mid-30's-- post Mien Kampf (in which he lays out is "Final Solution" in detail.)

    In other words, this nomination is a mixed blessing, at best.

  • by jnazario ( 7609 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:30AM (#1461696) Homepage
    you have to admit, this is incredibly accurate of time. ok, so amazon has not made a single dollar since they were formed. so what? their stock is doing quite well, and that's the real story of the year economically -- stock doing exceptionally well in the tech and dot-com area with companies that have yet to turn a profit. look at redhat, akimai, VA Linux... none of them have done well yet, though their stocks are doing very, very well.

    secondly, this whole absurdity in the lawsuit over the one-click-shopping patent is indeed also a milestone in american history. in a world where arbitrary patents can be given out (cf. the two guys who have a patent on using a laser pointer to amuse a cat), this is utterly symbolic of how absurd the whole mess has become. a small GIF formatted graphic using the word 'Go' in a sans serif font... what a load of horsepucky.

    so, the next time you say, "oh, what a crock", think about what amazon is all about, and then take a look at the larger economic and tech world this past year, and you'll see that they are indeed leaders in that arena.

  • by int ( 9392 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:32AM (#1461698) Homepage
    CmdrTaco has stopped shopping at Amazon personally, yet still promotes buying books there in the books section.. Hmmm :)
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:34AM (#1461700)
    Okay, prepare for a rant.

    Time magazine selects a guy who creates a online business man of the year.. simply because it was "e-commerce"?! Tell me, if another company had gone IPO this year and been valued more than would they have been a contender? No. Case in point: VA Research IPO. Of course, they're not the hip and trendy "e-commerce".. oh well then, right? Hrmph. I was so looking forward to finding out who man of the century would be... but maybe that anticipation was misplaced - Time magazine is just cashing in on the hype and popularity. Whoever's the most popular in the polls is gonna be the winner, which will be completely independent of who had the most influence on modern day living.

    My vote for who should have been man of the year: The head of NASA. Trying to keep people interested in space exploration, trying to push the envelope by making more out of less. Dealing with politicians more concerned about tax breaks for their district than the exploration of the final frontier. God, it's enough to make me cry. Hell, the entire NASA team should have gotten an award - "company of the decade" or something.

  • Listen - I work tech support at, and though I don't necessarily agree with all of the bullshit that is spewed out from the all-knowing corporate mouth, remember that Jeff Bezos is NOT The gurus in legal have as much or more to do with any patent stupidity as Jeff, and Amazon's official take, even when spiced up with a few of Jeff's words, is brought to you by the grace of a PR department, just as in any other large scale corporation.

    Personally, I find the whole idea of a "man of the year" to be basically moronic, but, having met Jeff, I don't see why he doesn't fit the bill as well as anyone else. Whether or not you agree with his business practices, they have achieved a very high profile state due both to how unusual they are and just plain old media hype. Personally, Jeff was VERY cool, super-intelligent, and not at all holier-than-thou. He has an active sense of humor, and is really interested in pretty much anything (not just money, eh?), including obscure technical stuff like public key encryption and the relative benefits of IMAP vs. POP mail configuration. And before you go off about how unprofitable is, take a look at the borg factor: How much of that unprofitability is due to infrastructure overhead & direct business expenses, and how much is due to rapid expansion and business acquisition. Relative to what things'll be like 10 years from now, it's a hysterically open field, full of opportunities that are only going to do a corporation any good if they are acted upong NOW, not later when the pie has been fully divvied up and eaten. Do I philosophically agree with big corporation money gobbling madness? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Too much focus of power in a small group of individuals opens the door for major uncoolness, but conversely makes it possible to achieve some truly excellent things. How long is your wait time when you call Amazon customer service? Did the right item appear at the right address on time in good condition? Probable answers: Very short, and yes. Can other companies STILL promise delivery before Christmas? Definite answer: No.

    Aye, I know, this grows lengthy. In short, all I'm trying to say is:

    A: Amazon may or may not succeed in the long run, but no other competing company is even close in terms of foreseeable potential. Of course it's a gamble. It's a volatile market in unexplored business territory. The payoff, however, stands to be huge.

    B: No, Amazon is not built entirely on ideals of co-prosperity and friendship between competitors. Yes, Amazon is capable of exerting muscle in questionable ways to consolidate it's hold on online retailing. Is this worse than what other companies in it's position would do? Almost certainly not. is exciting, it's cool, it's a great place to work (they put up with my bullshit, right?), but it IS a megagoliath money hungry corporation, with all that entails. Get real, don't expect Mother Theresa.

    C: Jeff Bezos is cool. If you ever met him, you'd probably be much more zen about having him as (I still think the very concept is stupid) Time Magazine's man of the year.

    Please forgive length of message. Brain eaten by moths.
  • I have to second your statement about bad experiences at B&N. I'll never shop there again. I have placed three orders through them. Not one of them reached me. One was listed as 'in stock' and it turned out it wasn't. They waited a month then sent me email saying my order was canceled. They did the same thing with another order for a totally different book. Yet a third order was canceled because they claimed the book had been published when it hadn't, and sent me email over a month later canceling that order as well. B&N online bites the big one. Shame since their actual stores are very well done.

    On the other hand, I've put numerous orders through Amazon, and only once even had a minor problem, and it was quickly resolved. I'm aggravated about the whole 1-click thing, but unless someone else comes along who does as good a job Amazon will get all of my book business.

  • Choosing someone who made a lot of money is nicely symbolic, I think. In the first part of the century, our world was defined by war. As the 20th century comes to a close, it's defined by money.

    I have to say, I think the latter is better, don't you?


  • Iraq sells oil. So as long as they keep doing a good job, delivering in a timely manner and offering me arms and legs off the Saudi price, I will continue to be a customer. To not support them because of a petty squabble over their attempts at regional domination through any means possible is the real disgrace, in my eyes.

    1980-era South Africa sells diamonds. So long as they keep doing a good job, carrying a wide size assortment, and offering me a good rate, I will continue to be a customer. To not support them because of a petty human rights squabble is the real disgrace, in my eyes.

    Nazi Germany sells good products. So as long...

    You get the picture. Now, there are obviously some scale issues here. I certainly don't equate the pursuit of unreasonable intellectual property rights with genocide. But the basic principle is the same: your financial support helps preserve the status quo and discourages change of the behavior you find objectionable.

  • by HEbGb ( 6544 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:40AM (#1461735)
    While I generally don't hold "Time Magazine" in very high regard (being barely a step up from the tabloid), this sort of award reinforces my distaste for pop-news, particularly when it has anything to do with technology.

    Now, of course Time magazine's strategy is to capitalize from this tech hype, so Bezos is an easy choice. Enough people will buy the magazine just because they envy the new computer-billionaires.

    Let us consider Bezos' accomplishments:

    1) Generating a huge, moneylosing web site to sell various products over the internet.

    2) Convincing thousands of investors to hand over billions of dollars to support it.

    3) Generating more baseless 'net-hype than anyone before him.

    4) Deciding to do battle against competitors with stupid and obvious patents, rather than with thoughtful, innovative business strategies and by providing more value to their customers.

    He's never created any value whatsoever for his stockholders, but he's certainly gotten them to convince others to invest - sounds like a big ponzi scheme to me.

    When it's all said and done, it looks like their best engineered, most innovatively created, and best marketed product is..... their stock.

    For this, I would suggest bestowing the first "Huckster of the year" award upon Bezos.
  • Insert history geek commentary: Hitler did not exactly detail the "Final Solution" until considerably later in the game, when he and some of his boys got together at a conference held for that purpose. "Final Solution" was not really part of Mein Kampf; that book was just about afixing blame on someone other than Franz Josef for Germany's blunders and subsequent punishment in WWI. Now, back on topic. A&E picked Alan Greenspan as their Biography of the Year. I also recall Yasir Arafat getting Time's Man O' the Year. And sharing a Nobel Peace Prize. Hey, the goons in the mainstream media have to laud someone. They really think they control what goes on. But an award is so arbitrary and unimpressive, that most people end up exactly where they started: not giving a rat's ass! I'm really surprised that this little news blurb made it on /. anyway. I'm sure that someone will say "Oh, it's the first time a .com businessman (or insert technojargon phrase here) has won such a prestigious award." Yeah, so what? The real award that Bezos has gotten can be seen in his bank account. Time Magazine? PFEH!!!
  • Actually, judging from what I remember about previous MOTY awards, they generally choose what has been the most incredible event of the previous year and then choose a person to match that.

    For instance, they say the Republican control of Congress as most newsworthy and chose Newt Gingrich. This does not really mean he was most influential. Just that the cause that he represented was most newsworthy. More telling was when the researcher for the AIDS drug-cocktail won. I'm sure he's smart, but that kind of research is rarely the result of one person's efforts (at least nowadays). He was chosen more because that was an incredible accomplishment and by definition they can only choose one person.

    So e-commerce is the big thing this year. They probably decided that first. Then they had to pick a person. Bezos is undeniable the person. It doesn't really mean that he's the most influential person, just that he most represents what they consider the most important event of the year. Let's just be glad they didn't pick Bill Gates. . .
  • Online commerce will definitely be a larger economic sector (if you could even call it that) than operating systems and applications; it will also subsume a percentage of the latter.

    However, that does not mean that it will be more profitable, and quite unlike the OS and application market, it will tend away from monopoly by its nature, rather than towards it. In the long term, I think it will be extremely difficult for Amazon to justify its market cap, unless it buys, say, a few Bolivian copper mines.

  • by Philipp ( 1858 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @12:43PM (#1461758) Homepage
    Instead of linking to eiher Amazon or Fatbrain wouldn't it be better to link to sites such as AddAll [] or BestBookBuys []. These sites are quite smart in finding out the cheapest prices from several bookstores (including Amazon and Fatbrain). They even take state tax and shipping into account. (Of course, they are not going to pay slashdot.andover for each book buy.)

    And if you think about these sites, they are strong evidence, that Amazon will never be very proitable - the competition on the net is just too strong (on-topic again!).

  • Whatever happened to their lawsuit with Amazon Bookstore? Last I heard, Amazon was dishing out some pretty bottom-of-the-barrel tactics in dealing with these people...
  • OK, So Bezos gets POTY(Person of the Year) while his company, never having made a profit, is 300 million dollars in the hole for this year. Can I just spend all of my salaray next year and be Person of the Year?

    Of course, there is also the fact that POTY has always been about influence, not "likeability". Yeah, Hitler was POTY in the 30's, but the man did have an influence, no doubt about it. Probably were better choices, but I bet Bezos was picked becasue Amazon is famous. It's not like they are gonna pick Redhat's CEO. Most people don't recognize the name. Bezos is an e-commerce symbol, nothing more nothing less.
  • by InfiniterX ( 12749 ) on Sunday December 19, 1999 @07:58AM (#1461766) Homepage
    I read an article about Bezos a few months ago, in I think the New York Times Magazine.

    This man managed to turn a little website sitting on a SPARCstation 5 into a multi-national empire in just a matter of 2 or 3 years. was the pioneer for online merchandising (I refuse to use the word e-commerce), and despite for a couple of minor issues (i.e. the '1-click' patent issue, but we won't go down that path here) Amazon remains the gold standard for an e-commerce site. showed the unwashed masses that they won't get burned by buying things online. In addition, their prices are slightly better than the national book mega-store chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc).

    Frankly, I say he deserves the title of "Man of the Year" since 1999 certainly is the explosion of "e-commerce." Sure, there have been minor hiccups in the system (like the whole patent issue). However, things like the automobile, phones, and computers (gasp!) had issues when they were first emerging, and today we take them for granted.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!