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In "Fulfillment," Author Alec MacGillis Probes Amazon's Pervasive Impact on Society

Alec MacGillis is an award-winning investigative reporter with Pro Publica.
Photo by J. M. Giordano
Alec MacGillis is an award-winning investigative reporter with Pro Publica.

Far beyond its economic impact, Jeff Bezos's retailing behemoth has forever changed American culture.

(This conversation originally aired March 16, 2021)

Tom's guest on this archive edition of Midday 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. His latest book is 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 new 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 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 delivered every year.

In his latest book, Alec MacGillis takes us into those warehouses, and the lives and communities of the people who work there. With assiduous reporting and powerful writing, he chronicles the enormous imprint of Amazon, and its far-reaching effects on American society.

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

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Rob is a contributing producer for Midday.