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Article saying libraries should be replaced by Amazon meets with resounding opposition

Article saying libraries should be replaced by Amazon meets with resounding opposition
One person suggested Amazon bookstores should replace public libraries. Readers disagreed. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Public libraries should be replaced by Amazon stores, argued Panos Mourdoukoutas in an article published on Forbes’ website Saturday — and removed on Monday.

"At the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees," wrote Mourdoukoutas, an economics professor at Long Island University-Post. "This is why Amazon should replace local libraries. The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop."

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At Gizmodo, journalist Tom McKay pointed out a few flaws in the professor’s case, noting, “Mourdoukoutas writes that the government should stop funding libraries in part to save taxpayers a vague (and within the article, never quantified) amount of money.” He also took apart its logic, noting in part, “Amazon does not have an ‘online library.’ It has an store. These are entirely different ways of providing access to things.”

On Twitter, users wasted no time defending the purpose of public libraries:

Writer Nick Kolakowski, who first engaged with Mourdoukoutas on Twitter, later posted a response on Medium. “Libraries provide more than just books, of course,” he writes. “At my local library, just down the block, kids use the computers (and free Web access) to do schoolwork; adults consult with librarians to find out information about city services; people check out books and videos they might not be able to otherwise afford. It is a shining example of what we might call ‘street level democracy,’ or the ability of the collective to access what it needs to survive and prosper.”

11 a.m. July 28: This article was updated with information that Forbes removed the story from its site.

This post was originally published at 12:05 p.m. July 23

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