MARKETING MIX: Book of the week

The Perfect Store - Inside eBay, by Adam Cohen (Little Brown and Company, £16.67).

Is eBay the perfect store? I think not. Perhaps the perfect car-boot sale?

Cohen's book traces the rapid rise of an e-empire from humble spare bedroom beginnings to benchmark business of the dotcom boom. It's a romantic tale in the truest sense and littered with anecdotes and detail that demonstrates Cohen has made good use of his exclusive access to the eBay archives.

Unfortunately that's where the story ends and the lip service begins, because, far from really examining the 'why' surrounding the eBay phenomenon, the book slips into sycophancy.

The eBay success is a fulfilment of the American dream. But its success is more founded upon understanding human nature than upon business vision.

It's in our primitive instincts to tussle for a bargain, the desire for competition, the need to play and win. Common sense surely tells us that business should reflect and respond to the more instinctive motivations of the consumers, not dictate it.

The eBay dream turned everyone into entrepreneurs, selling everything from guns to human organs and if you like a read, this book tells a good story. However, if you want to start the next e-success, the lesson is think from the mouse in, not the box out.

Mark Dickens is a director of Astound.


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