“I would say the biggest theme in the book is the idea that the things that we worry over the most in life, the things that we feel trapped by, the mistakes we’ve made, the bad luck that we come across, the accidents that happen to us, the paradoxes — in the end, oftentimes those things are the things that we’ll look back and be the most grateful for,” Ms. Bezos said of the novel during an interview with Charlie Rose. “They take us where we need to go.”
Throughout their marriage, Mr. Bezos was an enthusiastic supporter of Ms. Bezos’s fiction, and would clear his schedule to read drafts of her novels, Ms. Bezos told Vogue. In the acknowledgments of “Traps,” she called him “my most devoted reader.”
But Ms. Bezos’s literary career may have been complicated to some extent by her high-profile husband, who has done more than perhaps any individual in recent history to transform and sometimes destabilize the book-selling business. Many independent booksellers, publishers and agents blame Amazon for building a monopoly that has put independent stores out of business and poses a dire threat to once thriving chains like Barnes & Noble.
Even though Amazon splashily introduced its own publishing imprints, Ms. Bezos still chose traditional houses for her books: Harper and Knopf. (When asked by an interviewer why Ms. Bezos wasn’t publishing her books through Amazon’s fiction imprints, Mr. Bezos jokingly described his wife as “the fish that got away.”)
Sales of her books have been modest: The novels have sold a few thousand print copies, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks some 85 percent of print sales. Some independent booksellers refused to stock Ms. Bezos’s novels, according to a publishing executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Ms. Urban, Ms. Bezos’s literary agent, declined to comment for this article.
The Bezoses were the richest couple in the world; their divorce exists at a level of wealth that is virtually unprecedented. There have been billion-dollar divorces, like that of Steve and Elaine Wynn who owned casinos together, and certainly, technology entrepreneurs have been in and out of divorce court — most notably Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle who has been wed and unwed four times.
By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH and ALEXANDRA ALTER