Should We Replace Libraries with Amazon?

Jeff Bezos and Amazon in 1999

Of course not. It’s a terrible idea.

So why did Forbes publish this article that made that horrendous suggestion?

We have no idea, but that’s just the kind of sentiment that we’re fighting against in the United States with your donations.

There are, of course, many problems with this idea. First of all, libraries cost the average American taxpayer over 18 years old just $4.50 per month. An Amazon Prime subscription alone is nearly double that price and you get very little for free with that subscription because you still have to buy books or pay more to gain access to premium goods or services. If you want audio books or eBooks on Amazon, you need to pay for an Audible subscription or Kindle unlimited ($10 a month or twice the cost of a library) but you can get that for free through Overdrive (Libby) at your local library. If you want newly released movies, you have to buy the premium Amazon channels or you can get those for free at your library. If you want access to premium music you have to pay another $7.99 a month on Amazon or you can use Freegal or Hoopla at your library for free. And, if you want magazines, you can just get those for free from your library with Zinio or PressReader.

But those are just some examples of the physical things available at your library. The truth is that libraries have been a whole lot more for a long time. Libraries are community spaces where children come in order to learn to read and get a head start on learning. They are places where adults can get the help they need to explore an increasingly complex digital and information driven work environment. Veterans returning from overseas can attend programs to help them gain access to critical services. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can access global market databases like Gale Business Insights and use ReferenceUSA and AtoZ Databases to find new leads. Children can play with stem toys to learn how to engage with the latest technologies and gain the skills they’ll need in the workforce. They do all of this and whole lot more, for a lot less than Amazon or any other organization in the country. Just a take a look at these examples;

Comparison of the cost and services of Amazon and Libraries.

This isn’t the first or the last time that we’re going to see these articles get published. In fact, not long ago Forbes also published an article that claimed that we could save money by purchasing everyone a Kindle. We’ve also seen numerous tweets about replacing libraries with other high cost solutions that just don’t offer the same level of service for the same low price.

The only way to fight against these sentiments is to educate Americans about how valuable and efficient our nation’s libraries really are. For us to be able to do that, we need your help. That’s why we’re asking you to start a monthly donation of just $1, $3, or $5 per month. We’ll put your donations to work educating Americans and especially American voters about one of our finest institutions: Our Libraries.

Of course, that’s not to say that Amazon doesn’t have a place in our lives because libraries and Amazon are simply not in competition. Libraries make significant purchases from Amazon for everything from books to post-it notes. Many of our services like Overdrive use Amazon as it’s content delivery system. And, if you want to sign up for Amazon Smile, you can add the EveryLibrary Institute or your local library as one of your recipients when you make purchases from Amazon Smile.