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The best free Kindle books on Amazon Prime

If you&#;re an existing Amazon Prime member, did you know you already have access to Prime Reading? Whether you&#;re a confessed bookworm or just like to read on your morning commute, Prime Reading offers unlimited access to a selection of over one thousand e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and comic books to keep you entertained. You&#;ll find bestsellers from popular publishing houses alongside literary classics from authors like Jane Austen &#; and the best bit is that all the books are free for Prime members. You also get one free pre-release book per month from a selection of editors&#; picks, allowing you to read some great books before everyone else.

You can read on the Kindle Paperwhite or Oasis &#; or just download the Kindle app for iOS and Android to start reading for free.

Don&#;t have Amazon Prime? We&#;ve also rounded up some of the best free Kindle books &#; with something to suit all tastes. There&#;s quite a lot to choose from in the Prime Reading catalog, so we&#;ve selected some of the best free Kindle books on Amazon Prime from a range of genres, including mystery, action, romance, and more.

Jump straight to a category

Action and adventure

Straight Shot by Jack Lively

Straight Shot by Jack Lively.

When Ex-Special Forces operative Tom Keeler passes through the town of Alencourt, France, he&#;s just minding his own business. But then someone tries to kill him. They picked the wrong guy, and as this case of mistaken identity unfolds, Tom finds there&#;s no one he can trust, not even the police. Nobody, that is, except for Cecile Nazari. Somebody murderous is preying on the weak &#; but they&#;ll didn&#;t count on a guy like Keeler. This is the first in the Tom Keeler series and you can also pick up the second book, though it&#;s not on Prime Reading.

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The Asset: American Assassin by Saul Herzog

The Asset: American Assassin by Saul Hertzog.

Lance Spector quits the CIA, and this time he swears he&#;s out for good. Then a vial in a titanium case arrives at the CIA headquarters. The note reads, &#;I will only speak to Lance Spector.&#; This action-packed spy thriller is the author&#;s debut and the first of the Lance Spector series, which features five books in all. It&#;s a twisting, turning read that&#;s best devoured in one sitting.

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Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book 1) by A.G. Riddle

Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book 1) by A.G. Riddle.

Fans of The Atlantis Gene will love Pandemic &#; a thriller about a global pandemic that takes place in Alaska, Atlanta, Kenya, and Berlin. Following the stories of Dr. Peyton Shaw, the CDC&#;s leading epidemiologist, and Desmond Hughes, a man who wakes up in a hotel room in Berlin with no idea who he is, or why there&#;s the body of a dead security guard from a pharmaceutical company on the floor &#; Pandemic takes an inside look at the WHO and CDC response to a global pandemic. Together, they must unravel the conspiracy behind the outbreak and unearth secrets some want to be kept hidden.

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Mystery, thriller, and suspense

The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion

The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion.

Sharon Lemke heads outside one cold January evening to see the lunar eclipse. But she spots something strange in the window of the house across her backyard: a little girl washing dishes. The Flemings don&#;t have a child of that age. Sharon could just let it go, but when eighteen-year-old Niki, a former foster child, moves in, she also notices something odd going on at the Flemings&#; house. Social services don&#;t seem interested, so the pair decide to investigate themselves &#;

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The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden

The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden.

Victoria Barnett has it all: a great career, a loving husband, and a beautiful home. But when an accident leaves her paralyzed and unable to speak, she finds herself confined to the upstairs of her home, receiving hour care. When Sylvia Robinson starts work as Victoria&#;s carer, she realizes that Victoria isn&#;t quite as impaired as she&#;s been told &#; and that she has an important story to tell, though she can&#;t get out the words. Then Sylvia finds Victoria&#;s diary &#; This gripping psychological thriller is almost impossible to put down once you start reading, and it&#;s inspired by classics like Rebecca and Jane Eyre.

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Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre

Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre.

What happens when the desire for a perfect life goes too far? Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get where she is today: a woman of social standing, with a gorgeous house and handsome, successful husband, William. When new neighbors move in next door, Cat welcomes them cautiously, but with hospitality. It turns out that Neena Ryder doesn&#;t share Cat&#;s luck in the husband department. No lady of leisure, she&#;s a hard-working life coach looking to move up in the world &#; and she wants the one thing she doesn&#;t have but Cat does: William. And once she&#;s befriended Cat, it&#;s time to eliminate the obstacles in her way to get what she wants. Billed as &#;Mean Girls for grown-ups&#; by Kirkus Reviews, this really is a twisted little thriller that will keep you thinking long after you turn the last page.

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The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry

The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry.

Do you really know your friends? That&#;s what The Best of Friends sets out to discover when the teenage sons of best friends Lindsey, Dani, and Kendra are involved in an accident: one left in a coma, one dead, and one too traumatized to speak. As the mothers investigate this incident, they realize they didn&#;t know their children as well as they thought they did &#; which leaves them wondering, how well do they know each other? As more secrets come to light, the danger of living double lives does too. Emotionally explosive, dark, and gritty, this is an unputdownable thriller.

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History and politics

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.

Whether you&#;ve seen the movie of the same name or not, Twelve Years a Slave is a must-read. The memoir and slave narrative of Solomon Northup, a free-born African American who was kidnapped by slave traders, is a moving, vital account of forcible enslavement &#; and it should be on everyone&#;s bookshelf. If you haven&#;t already seen the movie, we&#;d definitely recommend reading the book first.

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A Girl Called Renee by Ruth Uzrad

A Girl Called Renee by Ruth Uzrad.

This is the coming-of-age tale of a teenage girl in Berlin whose life is upended by the Nazi regime. Forced to go on the run with her two younger sisters, year-old Ruth heads to Belgium and on to France, later taking on a false identity and joining the Jewish underground movement. This story of determination and hope is at times uplifting, at times harrowing, but ultimately the tale of good triumphing over evil.

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American Guerrilla by Mike Guardia

American Guerrilla by Mike Guardia.

This is the true story of the forgotten heroics of young army captain Russell Volckmann, who escaped from Bataan into the North Luzon jungle and raised an army of over 22, Filipino men to fight a guerrilla war against the Japanese. That war killed over 50, enemy soldiers, and Volckmann&#;s leadership was critical to the outcome of the war in the Philippines. Despite being absent from almost every book on the topic &#; including biographies of General Douglas MacArthur &#; Volckmann is considered the true &#;Father&#; of Army Special Forces. This is his thrilling story.

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Biographies and memoirs

If You Tell by Gregg Olsson

If You Tell by Greg Olsson.

This true crime story by New York Times bestselling author Greg Olssen tells the tale of three sisters who underwent unimaginable abuse and torture in their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, at the hands of their mother. It&#;s a bleak tale of absolute evil but there&#;s a light at the end of the tunnel &#; showing us the unbreakable bond of sisterhood. It&#;s a harrowing read, but one that will stick with you.

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Travels with Rachel: In Search of South America by George Mahood

Travels with Rachel by GeorgeMahood.

If a far-flung holiday this year seems like the stuff of dreams, George Mahood&#;s Travels with Rachel will satisfy your wanderlust. George and Rachel take off on a trip to the wilds of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia for their honeymoon, with just small backpacks and a basic grasp of Spanish. Along the way they trek the Amazon rainforest, fish for piranhas, climb volcanoes, and much, much more. This hilarious and informative book is a great pick for fans of Bill Bryson.

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The Sky Below by Scott Parazynski

The Sky Below by Scott Parazynski.

The Sky Below is the fascinating story of Scott Parazynski&#;s year NASA career. As a child he always dreamed of one day donning a spacesuit and floating outside the airlock. During his career he trains in Russia to become a cosmonaut, flies on five missions to outer space, and takes seven spacewalks. This is the story of all these challenges &#; and of the challenges he faces in his life on earth.

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Classic literature

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker.

If you&#;ve never read Bram Stoker&#;s Dracula &#; or if you have, but it was a long time ago &#; there&#;s no time like the present to dive in. This legendary tale of the infamous vampire count of Transylvania has been the subject of many books, films, and plays, but there&#;s nothing like the original Gothic tale to keep you up at night. At pages, this should keep you busy for some time.

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Robert Louis Stevenson&#;s Treasure Island is a classic for a reason, and it&#;s one many of us have seen at the movies as children. Colorful parrots, desert islands, pirates &#; they&#;re all within the pages of this adventurous novel, which tells the story of young Jim Hawkins and his quest to find buried treasure. If you&#;ve never read Treasure Island, put this on the top of your Prime Reading list.

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The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

You probably know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle best for his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, but did you know he also wrote The Lost World? Conan Doyle introduces us to Professor George E. Challenger, a big man with an ego that&#;s even bigger, and his expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin where dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals still exist. Published in , it&#;s just as thrilling a read today as it was back then.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte&#;s only novel &#; but what a novel. Following the story of a passionate, jealous love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and the mysterious, brooding Heathcliff, it was a highly controversial novel at the time of its publication in Today it&#;s one of the most enduring works of the Bronte sisters, and has been adapted into countless TV shows and movies, but the original book is still something you should read.

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Historical fiction

One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker

Photo shows the cover of the book with a view of the Wyoming countryside and the title in red font

Wyoming, , the middle of a harsh winter &#; the setting for Olivia Hawker&#;s American frontier tale, a powerful story of two families doing their best to survive and thrive in remote conditions. Following his wife&#;s betrayal with their neighbor, Ernest Bemis&#; jealous rage leads to the man&#;s murder, and he&#;s sent off to prison as a result. Meanwhile, the two families come together in his absence, raising their children and working the land. But when love blossoms between their children, their relationship is once again tested. Can they trust each other, or will they lose everything? With vividly crafted descriptions of Wyoming, well-developed characters, and a slow-burning plot, this is a book to curl up with as the night draws in.

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A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance.

An opulent mansion, dark family secrets, and the loss of a parent, set against the backdrop of the San Francisco earthquakes. Megan Chance&#;s A Splendid Ruin tells the story of May Kimble, who finds herself welcomed into the wealthy Sullivan family after an aunt she never knew existed contacts her following her mother&#;s death. But dark secrets haunt the Sullivan mansion, and as May begins to realize she may be in danger of losing everything &#; even her freedom &#; earthquakes strike the city. May takes the chance to reclaim what&#;s rightfully hers, but will she seek vengeance on those who have taken everything from her?

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Under a Gilded Moon by Joy Jordan-Lake

Under a Gilded Moon by Joy Jordan-Lake.

If you like your historical novels meticulously researched, you&#;ll love Under a Gilded Moon. Set against the imposing backdrop of Biltmore House in North Carolina, the home of the Vanderbilts, the novel tells the story of Kerry MacGregor, a student at college in NYC who&#;s suddenly called home to be with family in the Appalachian Mountains. But the Vanderbilts want the land owned by Kerry&#;s family to complete their estate, and Kerry soon finds herself caught in a war between rich and poor.

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Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim

Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim.

This inspiring tale is set in and tells the story of two women who appear at first to have little in common: Jordan, a middle-aged black teacher living in segregated Chicago, and Sadie, the white wife of a German businessman, living in Oakland, California. But these women soon find out their mothers shared a close bond on a plantation in Virginia back when Jordan&#;s mother was a slave and Sadie&#;s mother the daughter of the plantation owner. This book is about two women who discover they&#;re connected by the past and decide to fight for a brighter future.

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Science fiction and fantasy

The Enigma Cube by Douglas E. Richards

The Enigma Cube by Douglas E. Richards.

Fans of NY Times bestseller Douglas E. Richards will love The Enigma Cube, which is packed with mind-blowing science and unexpected twists. Dr. Kelly Connolly is part of a team of researchers studying The Enigma Cube, an alien object with incomprehensible power. For years nobody has been able to unlock its secret &#; but all that changes on one fateful day when Connolly finds herself fighting to stay alive. It turns out, the Enigma Cube is more dangerous than anybody ever realized.

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A Girl From Nowhere by James Maxwell

A Girl From Nowhere by James Maxwell.

The first in the Firewall trilogy, A Girl From Nowhere is the epic tale of Taimin, a crippled boy living with his aunt in the wasteland. When his home is ransacked and his aunt killed, he sets out on a revenge mission. But he meets Selena, a mystic who convinces him to join her in a search for the fabled white city, where Taimin hopes his childhood injury may be able to be healed. But will the white city really offer the salvation the pair seek?

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Nomad by Matthew Mather

Nomad by Matthew Mather.

A free book on Amazon Prime Reading is a great way to get into a new series &#; like Nomad, which is the first in The New Earth Series (there are four books in total so far). Currently in development as a film, Nomad sees humanity given days to prepare after astronomer Ben Rollins is dragged out of bed by NASA and told something massive is headed for earth. They&#;re calling it &#;Nomad&#;. The planet could be destroyed &#; and Ben&#;s wife and daughter are trapped in Europe. Can he save them before Nomad swallows the planet?

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The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang

The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang.

This epic Japanese-inspired military fantasy is the companion book to M. L. Wang&#;s Theonite trilogy. Feature ice and wind magic, thrilling duels, martial arts lore, and sci-fi, it&#;s a must for fans of The Last Airbender and it&#;s hard to put down. At pages, you&#;ll need to set aside quite a bit of reading time to get through this one.

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Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderan.

Joanna Teale has been through difficult times &#; first, she lost her mother, then she battled breast cancer. Now, she&#;s ready to get back to her graduate research and throws herself into her work from dusk until dawn. One day, she&#;s disturbed when a mysterious child shows up at her cabin, with no shoes, covered in bruises. Ursa claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. Jo agrees she can stay with her, and together with her neighbor, Gabriel sets out to unravel the mystery surrounding the girl. But is Ursa really who she claims to be? As the final miracle approaches and the past catches up with her, some painful secrets will be revealed.

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Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla by Colleen Hoover.

Leeds and Layla fall in love at first sight and plan to be together forever, until Layla is left fighting for life after a shocking attack. Following weeks in hospital, she makes a full physical recovery, but emotionally she isn&#;t the woman he fell for. So he whisks her away to the bed and breakfast where they first met, in the hopes of rekindling their romance. When she starts to behave strangely, and bizarre things happen, he turns to fellow guest Willow for solace and soon finds himself drawn into her problems, helping her out. But he can&#;t help both women and quickly realizes it&#;s time to make a choice &#;

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The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury by Marc Levy

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury by Marc Levy.

Originally published in French, there&#;s something of an Amelie-vibe to Marc Levy&#;s The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury: quirky, charming, and irresistible. Alice has everything in her life in order, just the way she wants it. But it&#;s been a strange week. Her belligerent neighbor has suddenly become amiable and chatty, encouraging her to take her fortune teller&#;s advice and head off in a trip to Turkey to meet the most important person in her life, and even offering to fund the trip. It&#;s while on this trip Alice discovers her entire life as she knows it is a lie, that nothing in her past is true, and that the six people she&#;s about to meet will change her life forever &#;

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Comics and graphic novels

Batman: Year One

Photo shows a red cover with the title Batman: Year One and a black picture of Batman

Batman fans should check out Year One, written by Frank Miller, author of The Dark Knight Returns.  Published in , this reinterpretation of Batman&#;s origins includes the complete graphic novel, an illustrated afterword by artist David Mazzucchelli, and a foreword by Frank Miller &#; along with over 40 pages of developmental material that&#;s never been seen before, including sample script pages and character sketches.

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The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Photo shows the cover of The Essential Calvin and Hobbes with illustrations by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes need no introduction, and whether you&#;re a long-time fan of Bill Watterson&#;s colorful characters or new to this brilliant comic strip, this is sure to delight. It&#;s worth noting that this can only be viewed on color tablets, not on your desktop PC or black and white e-reader, but don&#;t let that deter you. Following the imaginative adventures of Calvin and his tiger, Hobbes, this collection brings together the first two Calvin and Hobbes collections, Calvin and Hobbes and Something Under the Bed Is Drooling, as well as an original, full-color, page story.

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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don&#;t Do by Amy Morin

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don&#;t Do by Amy Morin.

We all know the importance of physical exercise to keep our bodies strong, but what about our minds? Psychotherapist Amy Morin created a list of 13 things mentally strong people don&#;t do that was picked up by and went viral. In this book she expands on those things, helping readers break bad habits &#; like resenting others&#; achievements and indulging in self-pity &#; and looking at how we can increase our mental strength.

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Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast by Barry McDonagh

Dare by Barry McDonagh.

If anxiety and panic attacks are troubling you, Barry McDonagh&#;s book is the one to get. McDonagh created the Dare technique after more than a decade of helping people with anxiety, and it can be used by people of all ages and from all backgrounds. This book is a step-by-step guide to help you end anxious thoughts, stop panic attacks, face situations you&#;ve been avoiding &#; whether that&#;s driving on the busy highway or standing in a grocery store queue &#; boost your confidence, and even sleep better. The book comes with a free smartphone app and four audio tracks designed to give you quick anxiety relief.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Picture shows the book cover which is half blue, half white, with the title in large white letters at the top and the author&#;s name in smaller letters at the bottom

This year, we&#;re more into wellness than ever before, so no list of books is complete without a couple of self-help titles. Captivating readers for over 25 years, Stephen R. Covey&#;s book is just as relevant and popular today as it was when it was first published. Its easy-to-understand infographic format helps you to be more effective and successful, guiding you through each habit step by step, from Habit 1: Be Proactive to Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. This inspiring, insightful book can help you broaden your way of thinking, improve your problem-solving abilities, and help you to be more successful in both your business and personal life. If you&#;re just getting back to work after lockdown or want to make the most of , this is definitely a book you should read.

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Editors&#; Recommendations


When you think about Prime Day deals, chances are you think about Instant Pots, televisions, and dirt-cheap Alexa devices. But behind every flashy gadget deal is a lesser-known sale you can’t afford to miss. Because Prime Day isn’t just about tech or cookware—it also means seriously slashed prices on books. From cookbooks to collectibles to literary fiction, there's a sale for every kind of reader.

We’ve taken the liberty of weeding through Amazon’s Prime Day offerings to bring you the best discounted books to scoop up right now. We’ve also scouted deals on books we love here at Esquire that are ringing in at way less than the list price right now. Whether you like to read on paper or listen via audiobook, don’t waste any time—get shopping before the books sell out, and you’ll be reading on a beach before you know it.

Want the latest and greatest in sales to shop?Join Esquire Select.

Libertie, by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female physicians in the United States, this mesmerizing novel (an EsquireBest Book of ) begins in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, where Libertie Sampson is expected to follow her mother’s path in the medical field, despite her musical calling. When a Haitian doctor proposes marriage, promising to live as her equal in Haiti, she elopes with him, only to discover that colorism and sexism reign supreme on the island. Freedom in all its forms comes under Greenidge’s powerful lens: freedom from oppression, freedom to choose one’s own path, freedom to love and forgive. What emerges from her careful study is a powerful, transporting story about self-determination in an oppressive world.

The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments Box Set, by Margaret Atwood


If you missed The Testaments, Atwood’s long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, scoop this budget-friendly set to get caught up—and go all the way back to the beginning while you’re at it. In The Testaments, Atwood returns fifteen years later to the reproductive dystopia of Gilead, where three women converge to challenge an oppressive government showing signs of moral rot. 

A Man & His Car, by Matt Hranek


Behind every glossy hotrod is a story—or so argues Matt Hranek, who lovingly assembled this collection of photographs and interviews about unforgettable cars and the men who cherish them. You or any car lover in your life will fall hard for this keepsake volume, now retailing at Amazon for over half off, with testimony from Jay Leno, Snoop Dogg, and many more.

The Mountains Sing, by Nguy&#;n Phan Qu&#; Mai


With the epic, multi-generational sweep of Pachinko or East of Eden, The Mountains Sing tells the engrossing story of the Tr&#;n family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. In one dimension of the novel, Tr&#;n Di&#;u Lan tells her granddaughter the tragic story of her youth, when she and her family were forced to flee their ancestral farm during the Land Reform; in another dimension, the impressionable granddaughter, H&#;&#;ng, recounts her coming of age story during the Vietnam War. Rich and luminous, informed by a storied land’s national life, this panoramic novel soars through the valleys of heartbreak and the peaks of hope.

Paul Hollywood's Bread, by Paul Hollywood


Do you love to hate The Great British Baking Show’s steely-eyed villain? Do you also love carbs? Then Hollywood’s bread bible is the book for you. Snag it on Prime Day for close to half off, and you’ll be mastering gluten showstoppers like ciabatta, pizza dough, and soda bread in no time.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Collectible editions listed at this price point rarely look this stunning. You’ve likely read The Great Gatsby before, but there’s no time like the summer to lose yourself anew in Fitzgerald’s unforgettable story of decadence, dangerous dreams, and American excess.

The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition, by C.S. Lewis


Whether you’re looking to relive your childhood or share The Chronicles of Narnia with a young reader, you couldn’t find a better deal than this collectible seven-book set, featuring sumptuous full-color illustrations from Pauline Baynes, the series’ original artist. Lewis’ seminal stories about compassion, courage, and hope come to life in these lovingly rendered editions.

Girlhood, by Melissa Febos


In this powerful blend of memoir, reportage, scholarship, and cultural history, Febos examines the harmful narratives of girlhood, from “empty consent” to adolescent bullying. What emerges is a dazzling cartography of the violence, shame, and control visited on young women, at the expense of their happiness and freedom. Febos charts a liberating way forward in this galvanizing book, clearing a path for women to feel rage, power, and pleasure.

His Only Wife, by Peace Adzo Medie


In this funny, ferocious send-up of Cinderella, Medie finds her heroine in Afi Tekple, a poor seamstress whose widowed mother has arranged an advantageous marriage to Eli, a wealthy businessman from Accra. But when Afi moves to the city, she gets more than she bargained for: She is married by proxy, with Eli’s brother standing in as the groom, then left alone in a luxurious apartment while Eli cavorts with his mistress. In the months before Eli shows himself, Afi enrolls in fashion school and blossoms into a career woman, leading to a powerful confrontation when Eli finally surfaces. Medie's novel crackles with wit, wisdom, and a thoughtful meditation on Ghana's changing values. 

We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker


Duchess Day Radley, a self-professed thirteen-year-old “outlaw” struggling to care for her younger brother and single mother, will stick with you beyond the very last page of this harrowing novel. In their coastal California town, Duchess receives protection from the police chief, a man haunted by providing testimony that put his best friend Vincent in prison. When Vincent walks free, this unlikely convergence of characters is brought to a reckoning, making for a pulse-pounding story about how the past is never really past.

The Great Passage, by Shion Miura


Translated from the original Japanese, this prize-winning novel traces the thirteen-year process of making a dictionary, as observed through the lives of the publishers and linguists hard at work on the 2,page tome. As they collaborate on this labor of love, the novel’s characters unearth poignant truths about how words are a living thing—and the very foundation of our lives. Snag it now for 26 percent off as a Prime Day deal, then check out the feature film and animated television series. 

Life, by Lu Yao


At long last, we have an English translation of the novella that swept China off its feet. Though Lao published only two books in his lifetime, both were considered masterpieces, catapulting him to national celebrity and earning him the prestigious Mao Dun Literature Prize. In the semi-autobiographical Life, we meet Gao Jialin, a community teacher at an agonizing crossroads: move to the city after his job is terminated and leave his first love, or stay in his rural village, where life is familiar and comfortable? When Gao Jialin rejects rural life and falls in love with a cityslicker, a surprise visit from his first love causes his two lives to clash. Evocatively imagined and resistant to easy answers, Life is a masterful meditation on transformation: personal, professional, and national.

Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming


All twelve of Fleming’s James Bond novels—and the two short story collections in which Bond appears—are listed on Amazon as Prime Day deals, clocking in at 25 percent off. Whether you’re a collector looking to round out your bookshelf or a newbie to the franchise, this is the most cost-efficient way to stock up. Start your journey with Casino Royale, the unforgettable novel that introduced to the world, changing spy fiction forever.

World Travel, by Laurie Woolever


In World Travel, longtime Anthony Bourdain collaborator Laurie Woolever uses ephemera from Bourdain’s life on screen and in letters to produce a foodie travel guide to over forty countries. Bourdain’s charms loom as large as ever, with his powers of observation turned toward everything from the fish markets of Seoul to Oaxacan sauces. If you haven’t resumed traveling yet, take an imagined gourmand’s journey in your mind, courtesy of Bourdain’s inside scoop. When you’ve finished reading, check out our interview with Woolever, who explained how she stitched her late friend’s words into something new.

A Promised Land, by Barack Obama


The biggest book of was Barack Obama’s long-awaited memoir, a doorstopper that made headlines with its record-breaking $65 million advance. In these eloquent pages, Obama provides powerful reflection on the state of the American project, along with key insights and new information about pivotal moments in the Obama Administration. A Promised Land spans Obama’s early political career in Chicago, his history-making presidential run in , and concludes with the death of Osama bin Laden in With pages ahead of you, it’s best to start sooner rather than later. 

Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam


Before Alam’s outstanding third novel becomes a Netflix series, read the book, which is currently over half off. In this white-knuckled story, a white family’s getaway to a rented Hamptons home is disrupted by the midnight arrival of an older Black couple, who claim to own the home and ask to stay the night, as New York City has become shrouded in total darkness during an ominous blackout. With an apocalypse looming outside their walls, together the two families must endure an uncomfortable dark night of the soul, wrestling with their suspicions of one another while forming fragile bonds. Riveting and claustrophobic, Leave the World Behind invites us to sit with our discomfort and reflect on our own rushed judgments, delivering a dazzling and dark examination of family, race, class, and what matters most when the impossible becomes possible. If you find yourself falling hard for the novel, check out Alam’s tips and tricks for writers here at Esquire

The Man Who Lived Underground, by Richard Wright


Earlier this year, Esquireinvestigated the forces of racism and discrimination behind the eighty-year publication delay of Richard Wright’s lost novel. The book is now retailing for 25 percent off at Amazon, meaning that there’s no better time to get up to speed. In the novel, Wright poses provocative questions: What if you could look at life from outside of life? What would you see? In this masterwork from one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, a Black man named Fred Daniels is apprehended by the police, brutally tortured, and forced to sign a confession for a violent crime he did not commit. To escape his captors, Daniels flees into the city’s underground sewers, where he transforms into someone else entirely. Beneath an unfair world, Daniels tunnels into the basements of local establishments, leading him to startling truths about morality, injustice, and what matters most when the world’s systems are stripped away. Though the novel was written in the s, its visceral vision of crime and punishment continues to hold modern resonance. 

Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters


Amazon is offering Torrey Peters’ bestselling debut novel at almost 40 percent off (before you buy, read an exclusive excerpt here at Esquire). In this electrifying story, three lives coalesce around an unexpected pregnancy, forcing a bittersweet examination of identity, parenthood, and family. When Ames learns that his boss-turned-lover is pregnant, he confesses that he once identified as a trans woman, then hatches a plan for his lover to co-parent with his ex-girlfriend, a lonesome “trans elder” yearning to become a mother. In this compassionate, gut-punching story, Peters leans all the way into the tragicomedy of how families and identities are formed, making for a deeply searching novel that resists easy answers. 

No One Is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood


In February, Patricia Lockwood sat down with Esquire for a revealing profile, in which she took us behind the curtain of writing No One Is Talking About This, her debut novel. Never has the experience of being Extremely Online been more viscerally rendered than in this astonishing story of a viral celebrity who travels the world on the back of her popular tweets. It takes a family tragedy to reawaken her to the world beyond her screen, where she’s reminded that the internet can’t contain the wonders and horrors of real life. Written in a style at once lyrical and fragmentary, brimming with memes and texts, this novel locates both the profane and the profound in how we live online. No One Is Talking About This will frighten you, implicate you, and scrape your guts out, in the best way possible.

Infinite Country, by Patricia Engel


Scoop up our March Esquire Book Club pick, which gives voice to three generations of a mixed-status Colombian family, torn apart by man-made borders. When Elena and Mauro move to the United States with their newborn, then decide to overstay their visas, the cruelty of deportation sunders their growing family, but never their bond. Gorgeously woven through with Andean myths and the bitter hardships of living undocumented, Infinite Country tells a breathtaking story of the unimaginable prices paid for a better life, while reckoning with the complex interior world of immigration, from questions of identity to the daily pain of longing for a home to which one might never return. 

The Hemingway Stories, by Ernest Hemingway


In April, we celebrated Hemingway Week to occasion the release of Hemingway, the new documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. We went deep into our archives to remember Hemingway’s days as an Esquire writer, when he chartered planes in order to meet deadlines; we also spoke with Burns and Novick about the troubled and tragic figure behind Hemingway’s mask of masculinity, revealed anew in their film. The Hemingway Stories, a keepsake collection of Papa’s best stories introduced by Tobias Wolff, is currently ringing in at 32 percent off. If you’re as hooked on Hemingway as we are, don’t hesitate to snag a copy. 

The Hard Crowd, by Rachel Kushner


You can’t do much better than 38 percent off The Hard Crowd, one of our Best Books of Spring Kushner’s signature literary sensibility emerges and matures in this two-decades-long collection of cultural criticism, literary journalism, and memoir, all of it proof positive of her singular way of seeing. In these nineteen forceful, blistering essays, Kushner turns her lens to everything from Jeff Koons to Denis Johnson, Palestinian refugees to Italian radical politics, classic muscle cars to San Francisco’s indie music scene. And yes, of course, there are motorcycles. 

Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny


If you’re looking to pack your beach bag without spending too much on a beach read, spring for Early Morning Riser, an EsquireBest Book of , on sale now. Early Morning Riser is a wry and wise novel about the intertwined romantic lives of the residents of a small Michigan town. New-in-town Jane falls hard for handyman Duncan, but struggles to come to terms with the growing knowledge that Duncan is the local casanova, having slept with nearly every woman in town. When a tragic car crash binds Jane forever to Duncan, his ex-wife, and his mysterious coworker, Heiny soars in her offbeat examination of small-town baggage and found families.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders


Reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is like taking a master class with Saunders, all for the price of a discounted hardcover. Saunders has spent over two decades teaching creative writing in Syracuse University’s MFA program, where his most beloved class explores the 19th-century Russian short story in translation. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, our January Esquire Book Club pick, Saunders has distilled decades of coursework into a lively and profound crash course, exploring the mechanics of fiction through seven memorable stories by Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Gogol. In these warm, sublimely specific essays, Saunders’ astounding powers of analysis come into full view, as does his gift for linking art with life. By becoming better readers, Saunders argues, we can become better citizens of the world.

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Adrienne WestenfeldAssistant EditorAdrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.

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20 best books in , according to Amazon's editors

Ahead of summer reading lists traditionally released around this time (the official start of the season arrives June 20 alongside Father’s Day), Amazon has launched its own books list: the Best Books of the Year So Far. Amazon Books editors picked out each of the books in the list — 20 top titles published within the first half of the year that its editors “couldn’t stop thinking, raving about or recommending,” genres spanning from mystery to biography.

“The editors collectively read thousands of books each year, passionately debate them, and create editorially curated lists of recommendations each month,” explained Sarah Gelman, Amazon Books’ editorial director. “When the year is halfway through, we comb through the titles that made the cut and select the best of the best. While many of these books end up being bestsellers and customer favorites, we get especially excited about highlighting literary gems customers might not otherwise hear about.”

There weren't any general guidelines that the editors considered before choosing books except that each had to be published between January and June — “the only criteria is to choose books that we loved and that we think will resonate with other readers,” Gelman said.


The 20 best books of so far, according to Amazon Books editors

The following are among Amazon Books editors’ favorite reads so far this year. For the full list of editor-recommended books, you can find them all here.

Top 10 best books

Out of the top 20 books featured, here are the top 10, which we listed alongside their average Goodreads ratings and why Amazon Books editors said they love each one.

1. ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead

  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than 1, ratings

Amazon Books editor Al Woodworth: At a young age, Marian Graves becomes obsessed with flying, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get into the sky and circumnavigate the globe. Fast forward years, and Hadley Baxter is remaking herself in Hollywood as the role of Marian Graves in a Hollywood bio-epic. From Montana to Los Angeles, London to New Zealand, “Great Circle” follows these two women who yearn for adventure and freedom, and like flying, it’s the thrill of the century.

2. ‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than 47, ratings

Amazon Books editor Chris Schluep: When he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the committee noted how Ishiguro “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” In this beautiful novel, Ishiguro presents an “artificial friend,” a robot girl with artificial intelligence designed as a playmate for real children. It is a simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending story about the abyss we may never cross.

3. ‘The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race’ by Walter Isaacson

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than 6, ratings

Schleup: Isaacson is famous for writing “Steve Jobs” and “Leonardo da Vinci,” so a title like “The Code Breaker” might imply a book about a lesser character. But the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, biochemist Jennifer Doudna, who co-developed the gene editing technology CRISPR, is a giant in her own right. CRISPR could open some of the greatest opportunities, and most troubling quandaries, of this century — and this book delivers.


4. ‘We Begin at the End’ by Chris Whitaker

  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than 21, ratings

Amazon Books editor Vanessa Cronin: “We Begin at the End” is a story of regret and revenge, wrapped around a mystery, buried inside a tale of star-crossed love. Thirteen-year-old “outlaw” Duchess Radley — fierce but vulnerable — attempts to protect her troubled mother but instead sets off a fateful chain of events in this gorgeous, harrowing novel.

5. ‘What’s Mine and Yours’ by Naima Coster

  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over close to 8, ratings

Woolworth: For fans of Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, “What’s Mine and Yours” beautifully unravels the hurt, happiness, and hope that one generation bestows upon the next. An unforgettable portrait of how parents and kids—white and Black—handle love and loss, racism and loyalties.

6. ‘The Four Winds’ by Kristin Hannah

  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than , ratings

Amazon Books editor Erin Kodicek: Set during the Great Depression and featuring an unlikely heroine who will lodge herself into your heart, “The Four Winds” is a reminder, when we so urgently need it, of the resiliency not only of the human spirit, but of this country as well. Kristin Hannah's latest reads like a classic.


7. ‘Punch Me Up to the Gods’ by Brian Broome

  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than ratings

Woolworth: Hard-hitting, unflinching, and written with the unfettered gusto of a fist in motion, “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is a searing memoir of racism, homophobia, and addiction from a writer of enormous talent. With humor, grace, and honesty, Broome investigates his own identity and his experience as a gay Black man in America.

8. ‘Gold Diggers’ by Sanjena Sathian

  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over close to 1, ratings

Gelman: This debut novel is part examination of the immigrant experience, part exploration of the dark underbelly of suburbia, all with a dash of magical realism thrown in. Two second-generation Indian Americans discover the secret to success is drinking a lemonade made from literal gold, and their lives are forever fused together and altered. If this funny, realistic, and heart-breaking story is any indication, Sathian is an author to watch.

9. ‘The Plot’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz

  • Publisher: Celadon Books
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over more than 5, ratings

Amazon Books editor Seira Wilson: “The Plot” is a riveting story within a story that is a Rubik’s Cube of twists. Jake Finch Bonner, a once-promising young author, is floundering in obscurity when a one-of-a-kind plot falls into his lap. The resulting book rockets Jake to stardom — only, the plot wasn’t his. Korelitz’s thriller keeps readers guessing right up to its shocking end.

‘Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It’ by Ethan Kross

  • Publisher: Crown Publishing
  • Goodreads: An average star rating over close to 3, ratings

Schluep: It turns out that some of the most important conversations we have are with ourselves. Ethan Kross examines the voice that speaks inside our head, explains why it’s there, and reveals how we can learn to rely on it rather than being broken by it. “Chatter” is a masterful, revealing take on human nature.


The rest of the top 20 books


Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ambar Pardilla

Ambar Pardilla is a former reporter for Select on NBC News. 

Amazon KDP in 2021: What It Is + How Beginners Can Start
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Amazon books at

Amazon Books

Bookstore chain by

This article is about the retail chain. For the parent company and website, see Amazon (company). For the defunct bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, see Amazon Bookstore Cooperative.

Amazon Books is a chain of retailbookstores owned by online retailer Amazon. The first store opened on November 2, , in Seattle, Washington. As of [update], Amazon Books has a total of 24 stores, with plans to expand to more locations.[2]


The first location in Seattle has approximately 5, titles stocked on its bookshelves, using shelf space to display the covers of books facing outwards instead of spines; according to Amazon, the decision was made to showcase the authors and their work, rather than efficient use of space. The shelves display positive reviews and star-ratings from the website and prices are matched to online equivalents.[3][4]

The store also sells Amazon electronics, including the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, the Kindle Fire tablet series, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Fire TV.[5][3] Two locations of Amazon Books have a cafe.


The first Amazon Books store, located at the University shopping center in Seattle, Washington, opened on November 2, [3] The store has been described as the first permanent store from Amazon,[6] who opened pop-up shops and pickup outlets on several university campuses in [7] In February , tech news website Re/code reported that longtime Amazon executive Steve Kessel was leading the retail store initiative, having previously been part of the team to launch the first Amazon Kindle e-reader.[8] During development of the project, it was referred to as "Project Anne" in filings with the city.[9]

On February 2, , a CEO of a shopping center owner claimed that Amazon planned to open as many as bookstores;[10][11][12] the statement was retracted by the company the following day.[13]

Amazon Books's second store opened on September 7, , in San Diego, California,[14] and was followed by openings at Washington Square near Portland, Oregon,[15]Legacy Place in Dedham, Massachusetts,[16]Chicago, New York City, and Paramus, New Jersey. Other stores in New York City, Bellevue, Washington, Atlanta, Georgia, Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles) are expected to open between and [17][18][19][20]

In November , Amazon Books began charging non-Amazon Prime members a separate price for books and other non-electronic products, while Amazon Prime members retained the online price-matched rate.[21]


As of June [update], Amazon Books operates 24 stores in the United States.[1]

Current locations[edit]

Note: this is not a complete list of all locations.

City Location Opened
Seattle, WashingtonUniversity VillageNovember 2, [3]
San Diego, CaliforniaWestfield UTCSeptember 7, [14]
Tigard, OregonWashington SquareOctober 25, [15]
Dedham, MassachusettsLegacy Place February 28, [16]
Chicago, IllinoisSouthport Corridor March 23,
Lynnfield, MassachusettsMarketStreet Lynnfield April 14,
New York CityThe Shops at Columbus CircleMay 25,
Paramus, New JerseyGarden State PlazaJune 14,
Bellevue, WashingtonBellevue SquareAugust 24, [22]
San Jose, CaliforniaSantana Row August 24, [22]
New York City34th Street August 29, [23]
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWestfield Century CityOctober 3, [24]
Walnut Creek, CaliforniaBroadway PlazaNovember 2, [25]
Washington, D.C.GeorgetownMarch 13, [26]
Bethesda, MarylandBethesda Row June 26, [27]
Austin, TexasThe Domain[2]
Los Angeles, CaliforniaPalisades Village [28]
Denver, ColoradoCherry CreekMarch 6, [29]
Scottsdale, ArizonaScottsdale Quarter November 19, [30]
Cerritos, CaliforniaLos Cerritos Centern/a
Marina del Rey, CaliforniaWaterside at Marina del Rey n/a
Broomfield, ColoradoFlatIron Crossingn/a
Nashville, TennesseeThe Mall at Green Hillsn/a
Friendswood, TexasBaybrook Malln/a

Scrapped locations[edit]

In , Amazon also intended to open those additional bookstore locations by late or early , but the plans were halted for unknown reasons. Some of the scrapped locations are instead occupied by Amazon 4-Star stores.[31]


Local bookstores in the Seattle area described wariness over the physical presence of, with the University Book Store in the U District noting "different spending patterns" two months after the opening of Amazon's store; an Amazon spokesperson dismissed the notion that Amazon Books would interfere with independent bookstores and their operations, stating that "offline retail is a big space with room for lots of winners."[37]

The executive vice president of Half Price Books, a national chain of new and used bookstores, saw the interest that Amazon is showing in expanding brick-and-mortar bookstores as something good for the industry, stating in February that it was a sign that the "printed word isn't dead."[38]

After the announcement of a third store in Portland, Oregon, CEO Miriam Sontz of local bookstore Powell's Books stated that Amazon's move to open physical stores was acknowledgement that "something special occurs in a physical bookstore that is not replicable online" and that Portland was "filled with book lovers and book buyers", quoting bank robber Willie Sutton's quip that he targeted banks "because that's where the money is."[39]

The New Yorker, covering the first New York City store opening at Columbus Circle, called it in a headline "Not Built for People Who Actually Read," continuing to say the store is "designed to further popularize, on Amazon, that which is already popular on Amazon."[40]


  1. ^ ab"Amazon Books Locations". Retrieved June 28,
  2. ^ ab"Amazon Physical Stores | Find an Amazon store near you". Amazon. Retrieved
  3. ^ abcdGreene, Jay (November 2, ). "Amazon opening its first real bookstore — at U-Village". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 2,
  4. ^McGreal, Chris (November 5, ). "Amazon boldly goes where no internet bookseller has gone before: the real world". The Guardian. Retrieved February 2,
  5. ^"Amazon Books". Retrieved November 2,
  6. ^Kastrenakes, Jacob (November 2, ). "Amazon is opening its first physical bookstore today". The Verge. Retrieved February 2,
  7. ^Stewart, Janine (October 14, ). "Here's where Amazon's next brick-and-mortar store will be". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved February 2,
  8. ^Del Ray, Jason (February 3, ). "Meet the Guy Behind Amazon's Secret Retail Store Plans". Re/code. Retrieved February 11,
  9. ^Lerman, Rachel (October 8, ). "U Village rumors fly that Amazon bookstore is coming". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 10,
  10. ^Bensinger, Greg (February 2, ). "Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores, Mall CEO Says". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 2,
  11. ^Machkovech, Sam (February 2, ). "Mall CEO claims Amazon Books will open up to physical storefronts". Ars Technica. Retrieved February 2,
  12. ^Mihalcik, Carrie; Rubin, Ben Fox (February 2, ). "Amazon's novel idea: Physical bookstores". CNET. Retrieved February 2,
  13. ^Weise, Elizabeth (February 3, ). "Mall owner backtracks from Amazon bookstore statement". USA Today. Retrieved February 11,
  14. ^ abVan Grove, Jennifer (September 14, ). "Amazon Books opens in San Diego". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved October 8,
  15. ^ abMarum, Anna (October 24, ). "Amazon's bookstore at Washington Square: Exclusive sneak peek". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 21,
  16. ^ abHilliard, John (February 26, ). "Amazon gives customers a peek at its first Mass. bookstore". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 8,
  17. ^Zumbach, Lauren (August 25, ). "Amazon plans to open a Chicago bookstore in Lakeview". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 28,
  18. ^Gould, Jennifer (July 3, ). "Amazon set to rival NYC's bookstores with Hudson Yards spot". New York Post. Retrieved July 10,
  19. ^McMurtrie, John (February 14, ). "Amazon to open bookstore in Bay Area". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 15,
  20. ^"Amazon Books heading to Pacific Palisades as new village center takes shape". 13 March
  21. ^Soper, Taylor (November 1, ). "Amazon charges non-Prime members more at physical bookstores, hinting at new retail strategy". GeekWire. Retrieved November 1,
  22. ^ abGonzález, Ángel (August 23, ). "Amazon's new Bellevue bookstore shows brick-and-mortar ramp-up". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 23,
  23. ^"A new Amazon bookstore opened in Manhattan today". Time Out New York. Retrieved
  24. ^Hamanaka, Kari (). "Amazon Books Makes Way to Los Angeles Area". WWD. Retrieved
  25. ^"". Retrieved
  26. ^"Amazon's first Washington-area bookstore opens March 13". WWD. Retrieved
  27. ^"Bethesda Row's Amazon Books Opens Tuesday". Bethesda Magazine. Retrieved
  28. ^Vincent, Roger (March 13, ). "Amazon Books heading to Pacific Palisades as new village center takes shape". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved
  29. ^Rubino, Joe (). "Amazon bookstore opens in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood". Denver Post. Retrieved
  30. ^www.bizjournals.com Retrieved
  31. ^"Amid reports of abandoned projects, Amazon says it's still 'excited' about physical bookstores". 10 December
  32. ^Godwin, Becca J. G. "Amazon files plan to open brick-and-mortar book store in Atlanta". ajc. Retrieved
  33. ^"Amazon Books Not Opening At Lenox Square Atlanta".
  34. ^Day, Don (March 21, ). "Amazon plans to open physical bookstore in Meridian". Boise Dev.
  35. ^"Amazon never replied to Meridian request on bookstore plan".
  36. ^Chuang, Tamara (7 March ). "Amazon is coming to Colorado with a physical bookstore". Denver Post. Retrieved 21 May
  37. ^Wong, Julia Carrie (January 21, ). "Seattle bookstores face new threat from Amazon: a brick-and-mortar location". The Guardian. Retrieved February 2,
  38. ^Halkias, Maria (February 3, ). "What Dallas-based Half Price Books has to say about Amazon opening bookstores: Print is alive". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on June 13, Retrieved February 11,
  39. ^Cook, John (June 17, ). "Amazon venturing onto Powell's home turf, picks Portland for third brick-and-mortar bookstore". GeekWire. Retrieved June 17,
  40. ^Tolentino, Jia (). "Amazon's Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Are Not Built for People Who Actually Read". The New Yorker. ISSN&#;X. Retrieved

External links[edit]

Book Shopping at the Amazon Bookstore

To Understand Amazon, We Must Understand Jeff Bezos


When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

    Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire
    By Brad Stone

    After I finished “Amazon Unbound,” I glanced at the sleek black Amazon Echo cylinder sitting on my kitchen counter, right next to a few cans of dog food that had just arrived from Amazon. Instead of the device, I imagined before me the equally sleek, smoothly bald and evenly tanned face of Jeff Bezos himself, eyes peering serenely back at me from below the glowing LED halo.

    That minor hallucination made a kind of sense because — as we learn from Brad Stone’s new portrait of Amazon and its founder — Alexa, the voice coming out of my Echo, more or less is Jeff Bezos. He came up with the idea of a smart speaker in January , back in the era of Google Plus and the iPod Shuffle. Bezos emailed his top deputies that month and declared, “We should build a $20 device with its brains in the cloud that’s completely controlled by our voice.”

    For the next nearly four years, he obsessively micromanaged the project, pushing teams in Atlanta and Gdansk to make speech recognition seamless. He put in place a surreal testing protocol that involved hiring temps to spend days in empty apartments chattering away to silent speakers, and berated executives who told him it would take decades to develop speech recognition. He took home an early Echo prototype and when, in a moment of frustration, he told it to go “shoot yourself in the head,” it sent a wave of panic through the engineers who were listening in. He even came up with the idea for the LED ring on top, Stone writes, and with the name “Alexa” (in homage to the ancient library of Alexandria).

    Stone’s new volume is on its surface a business book that seeks to explain the rise of America’s most important private enterprise, a giant company also notable for its opacity. In that sense, it is a sequel of sorts to his best seller, “The Everything Store,” which introduced Bezos and explained his relentless and single-minded drive to take over online commerce. “Amazon Unbound” is particularly valuable in explaining how the company makes money, and the day-to-day decisions that end up having a big effect on consumers: Is it worth it, for example, to sell pallets of bottled water, with their low cost and expensive shipping?

    Stone looks at turning points in Amazon’s history, like the failure of the Fire phone and the rise of Amazon Web Services, its internet hosting division, as the engine of the company’s financial success. This is the inside story, a kind of corollary to the outside one Alec MacGillis recently sketched in “Fulfillment,” his grim look at how the country has become atomized by Amazon’s economic model. I was, though, left wishing at times for a third book that made a tighter connection between the inside of the juggernaut and its effects on the world.

    “Amazon Unbound” shows how the company increasingly wields its enormous scale against potential rivals. After acquiring a key robot manufacturer, for instance, it stopped shipping the machines to competitors. And it used its vast trove of data from third-party Amazon vendors to make competing “private label” products, then simply lied about it.

    Explore the New York Times Book Review

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    Significantly, the book is also very much a biography of Bezos. And that makes it timely at a moment when our economy is dominated by giant firms headed by a small handful of men, whose personalities and whims we need to understand whether we like it or not. Amazon in the s was an intensely personal venture, run by one of the wealthiest men in the world according to his own desires and reflecting his own personality. Bezos has recently announced he will be stepping down as C.E.O. before the end of the year, though he will clearly retain some guiding role as the company’s executive chairman.

    As biography, the book is both limited and perhaps strengthened by the fact that Stone has lost his former access to Bezos, whom he did get a chance to interview for “The Everything Store.” Stone writes that he later learned the C.E.O. was angry he had tracked down his biological father for that book. (MacKenzie Scott, Bezos’ wife at the time, gave “The Everything Store” a one-star review on Amazon.)

    There’s an old journalistic saying that access is a curse, because it puts the author in debt to his source and brings him too close to the person he’s covering. It’s safe to say that “Amazon Unbound” does suffer at times from a lack of psychological insight into Bezos. But it benefits from the author’s distance, and makes for a dense, at times juicy tour of the company Bezos built. Like Alexa, Amazon as a company seems to embody some of Bezos’ best personal qualities (his relentless drive to get you that package on time) and his worst (an “informal cruelty” that defines his company’s culture and requires that his factory workers and executives make personal sacrifices for corporate needs).

    At Amazon, nearly every big decision comes down to a meeting with Bezos, at which his deputies hold their breaths, genuinely uncertain of whether he will berate them and tear up their proposals, or double their planned budgets. Some of his fixations, like his determination to create a smart speaker, are visionary. Others are quirky: After reading that a single hamburger can contain meat from a hundred different cows, he decided that Amazon’s fledgling grocery business would distinguish itself by offering a “single-cow burger.” Once his aides got past thinking their boss was joking, they set to work. A few months later, the product manager got another email from Bezos: He was having trouble opening the packaging, and the burger had dripped too much fat onto his grill.

    It was, Stone writes, “a different style of innovation,” in which employees “worked backwards from Bezos’ intuition and were catering to his sometimes eclectic tastes (literally).”

    On a far larger scale, Stone solves some of the mystery behind Amazon’s HQ2 debacle, in which the company announced plans to build a giant new office complex in Queens, then pulled out in the face of local opposition. That New York City was even a possibility was the result of a decision by Bezos to throw out months of careful study — which had narrowed the choices down to Chicago, Philadelphia and Raleigh — and go instead with his gut.

    One of the last-minute additions to the plans, and the ultimate symbol of corporate greed to local foes, were the helipads. Bezos himself once hated helicopters, but all of a sudden they were cropping up everywhere. And it was during this period that he’d grown close to a former actress named Lauren Sanchez, a charismatic pilot who now ran an aviation company.

    Bezos is at his most human in the sections where Stone describes how he fell for Sanchez, throwing caution to the wind and courting her so publicly that he was sure to get caught. Stone has the incredible emails between a National Enquirer reporter and her source, who first promised to expose the relationship between a “B-list married actress” and a “Bill Gates type.” The source turned out to be Sanchez’ own brother, a true piece of work who played all angles and insisted to the last that he’d “never sell out anyone.”

    So it’s hard not to root for Bezos when, trapped by The Enquirer, he lures the publication into sending him a menacing letter — then cheekily publishes it and exposes the minor scandal himself.

    But Bezos isn’t just your average victim of tabloid extortion. He’s the richest man in the world, and has recently fashioned himself as a champion of uppercase “Truth” and “Democracy” by saving The Washington Post. Bezos speculated publicly on the possible political motives behind the revelation of his affair, Stone writes, and tried to shift attention away from the tawdriness and toward the brutal murder of the Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The Post purchase had been a “complexifier” in his public life, Bezos himself once wrote, causing “powerful people” to consider him an “enemy.”

    Stone’s reporting makes clear that this was, at best, reasonable paranoia; and at worst, a truly cynical bit of public relations, cashing in on a journalist’s murder to distract from a tabloid scandal. His “noble sentiment,” Stone comments dryly, “had little to do with his yearlong open conduct of an extramarital relationship.” Bezos’ wealth and power will always protect him, but there’s a flip side, too: They can also taint anything he touches.

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    How to list and sell your books on Amazon

    • To sell books on Amazon, you'll need to first sign up for an Amazon seller account. 
    • You can then sell books on Amazon by listing your new or used books as products. 
    • You can ship the books you sell on Amazon directly to the customer or use Amazon Fulfillment.
    • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

    If you're cleaning out your bookshelves and trying to figure out where to put your old textbooks and picture books, consider that you can sell your books on Amazon. 

    Amazon offers both a personal and professional account level depending on how many books you plan to sell. They also provide the option to ship directly to the customer or send it through an Amazon Fulfillment center. 

    Here's how you can sell your textbooks, niche and rare titles, or older edition books on Amazon.  

    What you need to sell books on Amazon

    To sell books on Amazon, you'll need to have this information handy: 

    • Citizenship country
    • Birth country
    • Birthdate
    • Proof of Identity (License or Passport ID)
    • Business address
    • Phone number
    • Bank account information 
    • Credit or debit card 
    • Bank statement
    • ISBN (the book's registration code)
    • Book SKU number  

    Create an Amazon seller account 

    First, you'll have to create an Amazon seller account. Here's how: 

    1. Log in to your Amazon account or sign up if you don't already have one. Then visit Amazon's selling guide page, scroll to the "How to register" section, and select either "Sell as an Individual" or "Sell as a professional."

    How to sell on Amazon 1
    Abbey White/Business Insider

    2. Choose the country you'll manage your virtual shop out of, and when a dropdown appears, designate the type of seller you are before clicking "Agree and continue." 

    3. Next, select or enter details on your citizenship country, birth country, birthdate, proof of Identity (License or Passport ID), business address, and phone number. 

    How to sell on Amazon 2
    Abbey White/Business Insider

    4. Amazon will send a one-time pin to the phone number you provided. Enter it in the pop-up window. 

    5. After clicking "I Understand" to confirm you have all the necessary banking information to open a seller account, provide your financial institution information and bank account information. Then check the terms and conditions box before selecting "Verify Bank Account." 

    How to sell on Amazon 3
    Abbey White/Business Insider

    6. On the following page, enter your credit card information and select a billing address. 

    7. Now input your store name, and tell Amazon whether you have UPC codes, diversity certifications, and whether you're the manufacturer or brand owner for all or some of your products.

    8. Confirm your personal account details and upload your ID documents and bank statement before hitting Submit. In five to eight business days, you'll receive a postcard with a code to verify your account before receiving an email from Amazon confirming the process is complete. 

    List and sell your books on Amazon 

    Once you're a verified Amazon seller, you can begin to list your books based on previously sold Amazon items or as a new item. 

    Quick tip: Avoid wasting time listing books no one is interested in buying by visiting each title's product page to view its Best Seller Rank. The lower the rank, the higher the sales — and higher the likelihood your book will sell. 

    To sell books on Amazon: 

    1. While logged into your seller account, go to Amazon's homepage. 

    2. With the search filter set to Books, enter the title or ISBN (the book's registration code) for the book you want to sell into the search bar.

    How to sell books on Amazon 1
    Christine Kopaczewski/Insider

    3. Select the book you want to sell from the search results to open its product page, then click on the "Sell on Amazon" button located beneath the Buy Box and current for sale listings. 

    How to sell books on Amazon 2
    Christine Kopaczewski/Insider

    4. If you're permitted to sell the book, a listing screen will appear. Begin the process by entering the SKU number for the book if you have it. 

    5. Now, set the price you want to sell the book for on Amazon based on its condition and competitor's prices. (As a new seller you may need to set your price lower than other sellers until you build up your reputation.)

    6. Enter the quantity you are selling as well as the condition. Select whether you want to do Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or fulfillment by merchant (FBM). 

    Note: FBA will see the company pick, package, and ship the book entirely on your behalf while FBM will require you to send it to Amazon before it's sent to a customer, which will likely take longer. 

    7. Click Save and Finish to list your book for sale on Amazon. 

    Use Fulfillment by Amazon

    Shipping books
    makasana/Getty Images

    Amazon offers to store and send your items for you once they're sold. This is called "Fulfillment by Amazon." They'll also provide customer service for your items and process returns. 

    Items sold this way are eligible for Amazon Prime free two-day shipping, which may help attract more customers to your items.

    For shipping costs, you'll pay Amazon based on the weight of the item. This fee covers picking up your order, packing it once sold, shipping it to the customer, customer service, and dealing with product returns.

    For storage, you'll pay a monthly fee based on the cubic feet your items take up. Be warned, this fee can almost quadruple over the holiday period (October-December), going from $ per cubic foot to $ per cubic foot for standard-sized items.


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