This weekend I had the displeasure of reading a Forbes op-ed piece suggesting that Amazon should “replace local libraries to save taxpayers money.” I was hoping it was satire, but as I read through it, I realized the author, a Forbes contributor named Panos Mourdoukoutas, was actually serious. (Or else he’s the world’s most un-funny satirist.)
For now I’ll assume he’s serious. In the article, he explains that libraries are no longer necessary since Amazon has its own online library, plus retail stores where people can buy books. He also says that people don’t need libraries for a place to hang out, because we have Starbuck’s for that now.
After I finished reading this steaming pile of shit, er, opinion piece, I had some suggestions of my own:
- Forbes should replace paid contributors like Mourdoukatas with unpaid interns to save money. After all, a college student is more likely to know how to do research before writing an opinion piece. And someone who did research would know that the closest thing Amazon has to its “own online library that has made it easy for the masses to access both physical and digital copies of books” is an offering of 800,000 titles people can check out on Kindle only. And that’s only for Amazon Prime members, so people who can’t afford to pay the ninety bucks a year will be SOL. Hey, too bad they can no longer turn to a library for assistance.
- Now that we’ve saved Forbes a bundle paying for uninformed, unsupported opinions on important public resources like #libraries, let’s get back to the taxpayers. I think we can save a bundle by getting rid of our police departments. If someone is the victim of or witnesses a crime, instead of calling 911, they should just go on Amazon and buy a copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine. Then they find an ad for a hitperson and hire them to handle the problem. Taxpayers will save a bundle, and the economy will be booming with new jobs in the “private security” business.
- While we’re at it, let’s get rid of our military. If another country attacks us, our defense secretary can buy a few hardback copies of War and Peace and throw them at the intruders. Hey, that’s a long fucking book, the hardbacks are heavy.
- We can get rid of the fire department, too. If your house catches on fire, just go to Walmart and buy a sprinkler for your lawn, that’ll put it out. Meanwhile, you can take comfort in knowing the store’s stock is going up!
Those last three were #sarcasm, a language I speak fluently. The first suggestion, though, is serious. Mourdoukatas, like everyone else, is entitled to his opinion. However, as anyone who’s ever visited a library knows, it’s always best to do a little research to support your opinions, instead of just talking directly out of your ass. Should Amazon replace libraries? Of course not, #LibrariesSave people from publishing uninformed op-ed pieces on the internet by helping with research. They also provide books and internet service for people who can’t afford to buy those things, community spaces for classes and group meetings, and forums for local authors to meet with readers. #AskALibrarian if you need to find reliable source material on topics like economics or “services actually offered by Amazon.”
Just don’t ask a librarian for a copy of Mourdoukatas’ book on the golden principles of leadership. I’m guessing they won’t be buying a copy. If you want to read that, you’ll just have to get it on Amazon where, by the way, you can find many helpful reviews of said book.
V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, a science fiction book series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans abandoned Earth—and we’re what’s left? She is also the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire novel that imagines the presidential election as a reality show…er, more of a reality show…oh hell, just read it.