Inside Amazon

My Story

Non-Fiction - Memoir
124 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2021
Buy on Amazon

    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

Perhaps you, like me, have already heard that life inside Amazon is not easy for its employees, but maybe you too have not had the opportunity to read a first-hand account of their working conditions. In her revealing book, Inside Amazon. My Story, Gisela Hausmann tells about her experience with Amazon from the late 1990s, when she chose the platform to self-publish her books, until 2020, when she worked within Amazon Logistics for more than a year. In Inside Amazon, Hausmann reflects on how her relationship with a company she once adored changed during these two decades. How did it happen that from being enthusiastic about Amazon, she became critical of the company's philosophy and its change of direction? You will find out by reading the sharp observations that Hausmann makes in these pages.

Reading first-hand accounts is always enlightening, and Inside Amazon is no exception. Gisela Hausmann is the author who has opened my eyes to Amazon and the way it treats its employees. Even though I had heard some news about it before, Inside Amazon allowed me to connect the dots. Hausmann's book is as effective as a story (although it is a pity that it is anything but cheerful) and as accurate as a study. She not only refers to her personal experiences but also to articles published on the subject, as the bibliography at the end of the book shows. I truly hope that many people will read Inside Amazon. I believe it helps to understand what lies behind great success. As they say, not all that glitters is gold.

Joe Wisinski

Inside Amazon: My Story by Gisela Hausmann is an account of the author’s long-running relationship with the online retailer. Hausmann’s association with the company includes using them to publish her books, along with being a top reviewer on their site and working in an Amazon warehouse. She initially was a big supporter of Amazon, but her opinion changed after she began working for them. The problems she says she experienced on the job became magnified after the COVID-19 pandemic started. After more than a year working for Amazon, Hausmann left her job. Because of a non-disclosure agreement she signed when she started working for Amazon, she was not able to go into every problem in detail, but still, she discusses many issues she had with the company.

Inside Amazon: My Story by Gisela Hausmann is a fascinating book. Hausmann clearly has much inside knowledge about Amazon and writes about both the good and the bad in the company. The glimpses of life inside one of Amazon’s warehouses were intriguing. Even though Hausmann says she tried to continue admiring Amazon, she says she couldn’t. Ironically, and to both Hausmann’s and Amazon’s credit, one of the books she sells on Amazon is this one, which is without a doubt critical of the company overall. I enjoyed learning more about a business that I use to publish my books and also buy merchandise from; it was interesting to get an insider’s perspective. Everyone with an interest in Amazon or online retailing in general should read this book.

Jon Michael Miller

Inside Amazon: My Story by Gisela Hausmann is an exhaustive, revealing account of the author’s 20-year involvement with Amazon as an investor, reviewer, independent author, and employee in Amazon Logistics as a late shift warehouse worker. As an investor, she bought for $50/share and sold for $20. As a reviewer, she learned about not only unfair reviewer practices but also fraudulent ones. As an author, she benefitted but also complains about Amazon’s policy of using one author’s page to promote other authors. But the bulk of her book is about the trials and tribulations of working the late shift in a busy South Carolina distribution center. Here her meticulous account reveals her struggle to improve Amazon’s system for worker safety and fairness as well as for logistical efficiency.

A user of Amazon as an independent author and as a customer, I too have had a long relationship with this company. Thus, I was eager to see what an insider could show me about its inner workings. Clearly, Ms. Hausmann has legitimate complaints, and I was particularly moved by her disappointment as an employee between Amazon’s promotional language and its performance on the ground level. If she is right—and I believe her reporting is accurate from the details of her hands-on experience—Amazon has a lot of work to do to bring its motivational slogans and beautifully inspired lunchrooms to actual action on the warehouse floors, which is rough and tumble, grueling, and resistant to improvement. It’s no wonder that after advocating reasonably for change and advancement, she had no choice in her final decision. Inside Amazon: My Story by Gisela Hausmann may be exactly what Amazon needs to bring the company’s logistics and treatment of ground-level employees in line with its stated goals. I thank Ms. Hausmann for opening my eyes to some of the key inside workings of this mega-corporation.

Tommy Wong

Inside Amazon: My Story by Gisela Hausmann is a memoir in which Gisela shares her experience of Amazon. While most of us are only customers of Amazon, we only get one perspective of the company. Gisela Hausmann, on the other hand, has been a vendor, stockholder, self-published author, reviewer, and warehouse associate of Amazon. She, therefore, has a multi-perspective of Amazon, and this is what she shared in Inside Amazon. The main part of the book is “My Story,” which is one continuous story divided into 42 parts. In order to prove the authenticity of the story, in the “Bibliography” section, Gisela has included links to numerous articles.

Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, and Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. One would have thought that dealing with or working for Amazon would be a pleasant experience. In Inside Amazon, Gisela Hausmann states otherwise. In fact, some of what she shared is shocking. I really appreciate Gisela's courage in sharing what she experienced. Amazon surely won’t be pleased with her book. On the other hand, this has not always been the author’s opinion of Amazon. In Inside Amazon, she said, “My memoir tells the story of how I personally experienced Amazon going from a most powerful supporter of the First Amendment to a company who just ‘spins off’ ideas to make money at the expense of others.” Yes, based on her personal experience, Gisela Hausmann shares the ugly side of capitalism. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story - a recommended read.

Ruth Castleberry

Inside Amazon is Gisela Hausmann’s account of her relationship with Amazon, and she delivers a fascinating read about her two very different experiences. Her first experience begins with her self-published children’s alphabet book, Obvious Letters. With this journey, she learns so much about the challenges of generating sales for self-published books and watches as Jeff Bezos and Amazon learn many of the same lessons. The author’s back and forth about the details of how Amazon reacts to market shifts is good reading. A significant result for Ms. Hausmann: she absorbs enough to write a strong selling book, Naked Truth About Getting Book Reviews, now in its 4th edition. She continues her writing and self-publishing activities. As a big fan of Bezos and Amazon, she becomes a careful observer of Bezos and his moves and even buys Amazon stock. Between Ms. Hausmann’s dealings with Amazon, she gains experience with FedEx in logistics. She also works with a non-vessel operating common carrier and freight forwarder shipping containers to the Middle East, providing the expertise she needs when she applies to Amazon Logistics.

Ms. Hausmann’s second encounter with Amazon begins when she joins Amazon Logistics in 2019 at the local warehouse where she lives. Initially, she believes the organization lives up to its promise “we’re customer-obsessed” and follows Amazon’s leadership principles which Ms. Hausmann frequently cites in her narrative. But, while her introduction to the warehouse facility is favorable, the actual working conditions differ from her initial impression within weeks. Her descriptions of activities and workplace responses are not surprising, and her disappointment in Amazon is understandable. Anyone who shops at Amazon will find this an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at Amazon’s back end. But all the credit for such an engaging read goes to Ms. Hausmann. She writes with a casual style that reads like a conversation. Once started, putting this book down is not an option.