This last July, Forbes published an essay that suggested Amazon stores could replace libraries. The piece was pulled down within a couple days, after nearly 8,000 comments on Twitter and a great many response pieces suggesting that this wasn’t even a bad argument, but “twaddle.” These responses emphasized the role that libraries play in providing services (beyond just books) to people who otherwise might not have access to them.
Some recent library user research we conducted in partnership with the Worthington Libraries in Ohio suggests that these criticisms of the Forbes piece don’t go far enough. Not only isn’t Amazon a replacement for libraries, but our statistical models indicate that library use supports commercial book sales as well as other social and retail activities.
In short: if you want to look for more customers for your online book business, look in libraries.