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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?

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Books by William Hazelgrove