Since his net worth has dropped by billions of dollars this year, you might expect Amazon.com founder and president Jeff Bezos — the king of all e-retailers — to be playing the Grinch this season. But Time’s 1999 Person of the Year is as high-spirited as ever. So we asked him for an update on online shopping, and his wish list in particular:
What were the last CD, DVD, and book that you bought?
I just preordered a Lisa Angelle CD that isn’t even out yet. I didn’t know anything about Lisa Angelle. We had a full-length song that you can listen to and download for free on the [Amazon] site. I’ve signed up to be notified when Nurse Betty comes out on DVD. The most recent book I got was out of print — it’s a biography of this guy named Gerald Bull. I keep urging Paramount to hurry up and release a new Star Trek movie — I bugged them so much that they finally sent me a Captain Picard uniform.
What kinds of things sell unexpectedly well on Amazon?
People are always surprised that expensive things sell so well. It always astounds me how many 61-inch television sets we sell, [and] 600-pound table saws. You might initially think, ”Why would I buy a 600-pound table saw at Amazon.com?” But then you realize that those are things that always get delivered. You never run to the store and pick up a 600-pound table saw.
What’s different about online shopping this year?
Last year, as you might recall, there were lots of online retailers who got lots of phone calls from various state attorneys general because they didn’t actually deliver. There were a lot of unhappy parents, with very, very unhappy kids. We were widely recognized as the one e-commerce company that had put enough focus and attention on the back end to make sure we could deliver. And I think that lesson for the folks who fell into that trap has probably been learned.