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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Early Days of Amazon

I just had my second novel out and was grunting away in a basement trying to promote it with only a small press at my back and I was a computer geek when computer geeks were still sort of rare and this weird Amazon site was there and I was talking to this guy named Jeff Bezos who ran the site and I would get him on the phone every now and then and like a lot of guys who had just started new Internet companies he sounded like me, desperate, willing to try anything and so I asked him to put my book Tobacco Sticks on the home page of Amazon to promote it. 

I don't remember exactly what he said, but I was a persistent bastard who kept calling and getting some other dude who sounded like he was working in a basement too ( we all worked in basements in those days) and so he didn't commit, but said he would talk to Jeff about it and I told him Bantam had just bought the rights and he said he would mention that too. But I just figured it was another goofy site like other sites I had found friendly to books and who knows if it would help or not, but I kept on it.

And finally, after another bunch of calls, Tobacco Sticks, appeared on the home page as the book Amazon was promoting that day. I did a really crude screen shot and printed it on a thermal printer. ( I still have it like a dead sea scroll) and I guess it helped sales, but the thing is, it gave me some instant legitimacy when I needed it most. I think I called and thanked Jeff and the other guys who I figured were barely hanging on, because there was all this press at the time how Amazon would just disappear because they just kept losing money.

How times have changed, huh?

Books by William Hazelgrove