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New book: How to Run a City Like Amazon and Other Fables

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Should cities be run like businesses? Should city services and infrastructure be run by businesses? For some urban commentators, policy-makers, politicians and corporate lobby groups, the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions.

Others are critical of such views, cautious about shifting the culture of city administration from management to entrepreneurship, and transforming public assets and services run for the common good into markets run for profit.

The stories and essays in our new book, How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables, explore how a city might look, feel and function if the business models, practices and technologies of 38 different companies were applied to the running of cities. What would it be like to live in a city administered using the business model of Amazon (or Apple, IKEA, Pornhub, Spotify, Tinder, Uber, etc.) or a city where critical public services are delivered by these companies?

Collectively, the chapters ask us to imagine and reflect on what kind of cities we want to live in and how they should be managed and governed.

The book is co-edited by myself, Rob Kitchin, Shannon Mattern, and Joe Shaw, and is available open-access. There’s also a limited print run, with artwork specially designed by Carlos Romo-Melgar and John Philip Sage.

Mark Graham