Fathoming Amazon: 9 Things to Know (Infographic)

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about Amazon this year.  The story of its growth in the last 17 years can only be compared to the thunderous rise of Walmart.  And in some ways, the curve is steeper: the million-title-bookseller turned world’s-largest-retailer hit the $50 billion sales mark in half the time it took Walmart.  As far as online sales go, Amazon has laid waste to a list of successively higher-caliber competitors.  Playing full-court with Barnes & Noble to Walmart all the way to Apple, Amazon just keeps outgrowing its labels: bookseller, e-tailer and now tech company?

Check out the infographic that’s helping everyone at Frugaldad understand the heights to which this furious ambition has led.

Amazon Infographic


  1. When I went to Amazon’s website, their policy stated that they would not price match Black Friday doorbusters. Could you post a link to the policy that you are saying does?

  2. I’m not really sure what #6 is saying. Are you saying there are 60-70 million active amazon users? I thought you said they serve 137 million customers a week? What’s the difference between user and customer? Just a littl clarification please.

  3. I love Amazon, and it’s my first stop for just about any purchase! I do have a question regarding the Black Friday ad match. I am looking to get my daughter an Xbox 360 for xmas, and I see Meijer is going to have the 4G with Kinect for $199. Not sure if that is something Amazon will match, and if they do, do you have to enter a coupon code to get it at that price, or will they be adjusting prices?

  4. Great infographic! Amazon has so many cool features:

    Prime (free, 2-day shipping)
    Prime Videos (Free movies for Prime Members)
    Student, Mom, etc. (Benefits of Prime and autoship options)
    Vine (free products for review)
    Kindle (just got my Kindle Touch today!)
    Fulfillment by Amazon (you send items in bulk that you want to sell and Amazon ships the individual orders to customers for you)

    …and of course, the 10,000 year clock that CEO Jeff Bezos is building.

  5. Oh what timing! I just finished reading “The Long Tail” and this is further proof that carrying EVERYTHING, with a big enough audience, will win. Here’s to infinite shelf-space, selling bits, and raking in the dough.

    This ia beautiful infographic and does a great job of putting these numbers in check. Thank’s for showing us, Jason!

  6. Can’t disagree with their pricing and their ability to send you what you need. Used to work in a family-owned bookstore and they still get 90% of my business because they can answer questions about books. I love talking with someone I know about books.

    • You can’t disagree with their pricing? They’re crushing a cultural institution— bookstores — by selling their books below cost, so that no one can compete with them, all to rope in customers for bigger ticket items. When there are no competitors left, do you think their pricing will stay at a loss level? Certainly not. And then, the consumer will not have another choice. They are a bullying company (i.e. sales tax fight) that doesn’t play fair.

      • i’m with susan. i think it’s a deliberate strategy for amazon: sell at a loss, because they can afford it, and other retailers can’t; drive those other retailers out of business; and then have something close to a monopoly.

      • Hi Susan

        I read your post and just wanted to point out something about economics. If Amazon became THE provider of books to the point where there was no competition, this would be because every person who wanted a book would find Amazon the best price and service provider. Again, this is assuming EVERY person looking for a book finds Amazon to their liking, as a service provider, a product supplier and as a purely digital entity. Also, if they increased their prices to take advantage of their large market share, people would still have choice because business men and women would see a opportunity to start selling books below Amazon’s now high prices.

        Another thing to add is Amazon can’t force anyone to spend money on the goods and services they offer, so if they started to abuse their customers, said customers would leave and Amazon could not do a thing about that.

        Also want to add as eBooks become more popular and widespread through devices like iPad’s and Kindle’s, I think this technology will bring physically book stores (and other kinds of stores) into question, regardless of Amazon’s existence. Personally, I don’t see physical stores becoming completely extinct as no matter how good your online prices and service are, face to face human interaction to apart of the human condition, as well as many people like to get out of the house and spend the day in and around the shops.

        Sorry for the essay!


      • Thanks, Susan, for mentioning the fact that Amazon sells books at a loss. I would like to see statistics for that in the above graphic!

  7. Item 3: My understanding was that on it’s busiest day of the year (Dec 13 ?) is does about 1.5 mill TRANSACTIONS. You say ‘serve’ so I suppose that could be serve pages on the site to visitors…? 137 million does not sound correct to me.

  8. I am a frequent Amazon customer. Those stats are rather mind-boggling. I must admit their rise to world domination makes me uncomfortable. Competition promotes excellence, and I don’t see any real competition for them.

  9. Very interesting. I do wish, though, that alongside the forest graphic you included how much energy the cloud that “saves” the forest consumes. Trees are renewable; the metals that go into reading devices and the carbon required to power server farms are not. It’s likely that the only consumers whose consumer behavior is greener because of ebooks are those who once bought 20+ new print books annually and no longer do, with the volume of new books offsetting the damage done to the environment that is required to deliver books digitally.

  10. Can we get a fact check on aisle 3? According to the most recent census, the US has around 300 million people. Recent IRS numbers also indicate that the median US household income is around $46K. Where did the statistic of 137,000,000 million live on less than $6K come from?

    • sophomore, from the graphic the number of people living on less then $6k is 19.5 million, not the 137 mil.

  11. @Susan appears to be the only person here to see the danger of Amazon. All the happy users should web search their bullying policies on publishers who they are now trying to remove by offering direct publishing to authors.

    This means that things like advances for authors will disappear, only the successful will be able to take time of to write, lack of editors, and the listing will be run by base popularity with no mind to quality; breaking new authors; a sense of pedigree…

    Is saving a dollar worth your local bookstore closing down?, worth the loss of jobs in your community? We want more than one political party: make sure we have more than one publisher/distributor.

  12. One site to rule them all. Pay no heed to the warnings about absolute power corrupting etc. Welcome to 1984 where only what the authorities approve is for sale.

  13. I am an author and a small publisher. With regard to books, Amazon is more than an monster e-tailer, it is a fulfillment center (distributor) now taking significant steps toward being a publisher — one foot is firmly in that door. Currently the Euro Commission and the US Dept of Justice appear to be supporting Amazon in its effort to control the pricing of all books in its system, taking that core right away from publishers and publisher agents. The big A is also luring authors into its fold by offering deals they can’t resist in exchange for the exclusive right to sell their books. Exclusivity is where Amazon is headed. They demand that authors/publishers sign contracts outlining business terms, but they change their end of contracts whenever they find it convenient — I’ve experienced that. Their e-book contracts specify that they can make unilateral changes, including altering the authors’ words. When brick and mortar stores are extinct and almost all the authors in the world depend upon Amazon for sales, and Amazon lowers prices to destroy competition, Amazon will reduce royalty payments to authors and keep more of money for themselves. At that point they’ll be THE WORLD PUBLISHER, singular — able to tell authors what to write and what not to write, able to destroy the careers of rebellious authors. Whoever controls Amazon will be the most significant force in U.S. and world opinion. Books are not just any old product, like shoes or candy. This monopoly is a threat to Democracy itself, and yet we allow it to have the same rights as individuals to contribute to candidates for office and see to it that anti-monopoly laws are unenforced and that the tax laws favor them. Teddy Roosevelt (R) understood the need to limit monopolies, particularly those that are vital to life and liberty.

    Thomas Jefferson said in 1816: “The end of democracy and the defeat of the american Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”