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In "Fulfillment," Alec MacGillis Explores Amazon's Influence

Alec MacGillis is an investigative reporter with ProPublica
Photo © J.M. Giordano
Alec MacGillis is an investigative reporter with ProPublica

Beyond its economic impact, Jeff Bezos's retailing behemoth has profoundly changed American culture.

Tom's guest today is Alec MacGillis, an award-winning reporter for ProPublica whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among other publications. He has written a book, out today, about Amazon, and about the seismic shifts that it has caused not only in the American economy, but in American culture as well, since Jeff Bezos started his on-line bookstore in the summer of 1994. The book is called Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America.

Bezos will step aside as chief executive this summer, but Amazon’s dominance in the economy will remain unparalleled. It is an enormous marketplace that dwarfs its nearest competitor in on-line retail sales. Its cloud servers hold the data for companies across the globe, including some of Amazon’s fiercest rivals. And the ways it influences the health and well-being of communities large and small, and the ways in which it has changed the very nature of work are myriad.

Amazon’s distribution system is massive. It has warehouses within 25 miles of nearly half of the US population, including two in the Baltimore metro area, from which more than 6 billion packages are shipped every year.

Macmillan Publishers/Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

In Fulfillment, Alec MacGillis takes us into those warehouses and the lives and communities of the people who work in them. With assiduous reporting and powerful writing, he chronicles the enormous imprint of Amazon, and its far-reaching effect on American society.

Alec MacGillis joins us on the line from his home in Baltimore.


Alec MacGillis is the featured guest tonight at an eventcelebrating the launch of Fulfillment. The author will take part in a live, in-person conversation with Baltimore-based writer, Laura Wexler, on the outdoor rear patio of The Ivy Bookshop, at 5928 Falls Rd., Baltimore 21209. Registration for the 7pm event is sold out, but Bookshop patrons are welcome to observe.

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