So this guy, Panos Mourdoukoutas, who has the writing skill of a high school senior writing his last paper of the year, thinks Amazon should replace libraries. So I’m going to go through this article and counterpoint all of his reasons, mostly because they’re all wrong and horribly misinformed.
1 ) “They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money…”
How this is wrong: I’m assuming he means in the U.S. because he’s talking about how much citizens are charged in tax dollars a year and I don’t know how other countries do it. *HE* says he pays over $400 a year in library taxes. Now, I don’t know where he lives or what kinda library his city has, but $400, really? Most libraries take their share of taxes from state and local property tax, rather than adding on a whole new tax, that generally just upsets people. My library in Ohio gets just over $26K a year. A YEAR. From taxes only. Our budget for this year was just over $5M and that was the first time in about two years that we had upped the taxes. I know I don’t pay $400 a year in property tax (because I don’t own property), let alone in library taxes alone.
He then goes on to explain what libraries do, because he clearly has never been to one and needs to make sure everyone else knows too:
There was a time local libraries offered the local community lots of services in exchange for their tax money. They would bring books, magazines, and journals to the masses through a borrowing system. Residents could borrow any book they wanted, read it, and return it for someone else to read.
Thank you for that riveting children’s dictionary definition of “library.” Spoiler alert: we still do those things, and MORE!
He goes on to explain ALL THE COOL THINGS WE DO. It’s like he wanted to talk himself out of writing the article, “BUT THE TAX DOLLARS!” that little voice in the back of his head says. I also want to add that he refers to libraries in the past tense, like there are only a few left and we’re already gone. Ugh.
They also provided residents with a comfortable place they could enjoy their books. They provided people with a place they could do their research in peace with the help of friendly librarians. Libraries served as a place where residence could hold their community events, but this was a function they shared with school auditoriums. There’s no shortage of places to hold community events.
2) “Libraries served as a place where residence could hold their community events, but this was a function they shared with school auditoriums. There’s no shortage of places to hold community events.”
How this is wrong: I’m sorry, but you’re bitching about paying taxes and yet you think there are OTHER places that are FREE where one can hold community events? Yeah okay, sure.
He then goes on about internet and computer access as well as video rental, but follows up with how it’s not as valuable.
3) “The modern local library still provides these services, but they don’t have the same value they used to. The reasons why are obvious.”
How this is wrong: HOOOOKAY fren, WHAT? How is internet and computer access less valuable? Because people have Netflix and Hulu and a big screen TV and a fancy computer and DVD/Bluray players? No, they don’t. You might think that in your little whiny white man bubble, but in *my* community, that’s not the case.
I live in the international district of my city where we accept and house thousands of refugees from many different countries. They don’t *have* computers or wifi at home. And those internet cafes (those are the real obsolete places) charge money to use their internet and computers.
My refugee patrons use our computers to pay their taxes, to request visas and green cards, to find jobs, houses, schools, and child care. Are you telling me Starbucks and McDonald’s are going to offer computers to people for things like this? Are their staff going to assist them when they don’t understand something that’s being asked? I doubt it. Also, I love Starbucks, but it’s expensive as hell and if they’re going to call the cops on me if I don’t buy a drink (they won’t, I’m white, I know this, it’s just some tea), then I don’t want to spend any length of time in there.
Also, a lot of my patrons, aside from being refugees and not speaking great English, are older, and they have no idea what streaming is. You know what’s cool, we provide workshops and classes on streaming! Does Dunkin’ do that?
Our main branch also provides:
heat press for t-shrits
media transfer stations (including Super 8 to digital)
professional photo booth set-up
faxing (something else that’s nearly obsolete)
and staff to help you use all of them
OH! And remember that the New York library cards now let you into the Met and other museums, which I think is pretty ding dang neato.
Next, he talks about Amazon Books because not even ebooks are safe, apparently.
Of course, there’s Amazon Books to consider. Amazon have created their own online library that has made it easy for the masses to access both physical and digital copies of books. Amazon books is a chain of bookstores that does what Amazon originally intended to do; replace the local bookstore. It improves on the bookstore model by adding online searches and coffee shops. Amazon Go basically combines a library with a Starbucks.
Okay, lets unpack that.
4) “Amazon have created [that grammar error is in there, I shit you not] their own online library that has made it easy for the masses to access both physical and digital copies of books.”
How this is wrong: Libraries have multiple ways of accessing digital content, like eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, movies, and TV shows. FOR FREE. I’m sorry, but I don’t have to pay a subscription to use my library. Sure, you could say that’s where the taxes come in, but I don’t have to pay a *separate* charge on top of other stuff. I’m broke, man, I don’t need this.
5) “Amazon books is a chain of bookstores that does what Amazon originally intended to do; replace the local bookstore. It improves on the bookstore model by adding online searches and coffee shops.”
How this is wrong: Well, now we know this guy hasn’t been to a bookstore in his life either, because all of the chain bookstores I know have both online searches, which they use to help me find stuff when I can’t, AND a coffee shop. Sometimes, that coffee shop is even a STARBUCKS. Oh my lordt, this guy is not a smart cookie. **Support your local bookstores people. They need it, the authors need it.**
I’m livid with this man and his shitty attempt at swaying the public. I’m ashamed of Forbes because I thought they were better than this. He’s so hyperfocused on the tax fees that he’s ignoring the fact that we have to pay to use nearly anything on Amazon. Recently, I’ve taken links to Amazon off my reviews and unfortunately, I’m going to stop posting reviews there as well because they don’t care about authors and don’t care about readers either. I do, tho, put my reviews on bookstore websites because they don’t delete my review.
Thanks for reading this. I’m so enraged by this article because I’ve worked in a library for most of my life and experiencing these communities first hand, I feel I have a better understanding of what the community needs than some crappy journalist does. Suck an egg, Mourdoukoutas, your name is way too long, go visit your local library for a change.
See you next time, friends, I’m going to go watch The Great British Baking Show and calm down,