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The Most Well-Read Cities in America

A few weeks ago, Amazon released their second annual list of the top 20 well-read cities.

According to Amazon, “The ranking was determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June 1, 2011, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.”

Sadly, my beloved Nashville didn’t make the top 20, though my hometown of Atlanta came in at 19.

The list is comprised of a lot of college towns–Cambridge, Berkeley, Ann Arbor, Boulder…even Knoxville. Who knew Tennessee fans could read?

Here’s the top 20:

  1. Alexandria, Virginia
  2. Cambridge, Massachusetts
  3. Berkeley, California
  4. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  5. Boulder, Colorado
  6. Miami, Florida
  7. Arlington, Virginia
  8. Gainesville, Florida
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah
  11. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  12. Knoxville, Tennessee
  13. Seattle, Washington
  14. Orlando, Florida
  15. Columbia, South Carolina
  16. Bellevue, Washington
  17. Cincinnati, Ohio
  18. St. Louis, Missouri
  19. Atlanta, Georgia
  20. Richmond, Virginia

Amazon also pointed out a few other interesting notes:

  • Berkeley, Calif., is a city full of jet-setters – it topped the list by ordering the most Travel books.
  • Boulder, Colo., keeps the closest eye on its waistline by topping the list of cities that order the most books in the Health, Fitness & Dieting category.
  • Virginia is for lovers – Alexandria, Va., that is, which tops the charts in the Romance book category.
  • Cambridge, Mass., grows the most budding entrepreneurs. These locals topped the list for ordering the most books in the Business & Investing category.

Did your city make the list? Any surprises? And who might top a list of most well-read cities in the world?

Source: Amazon.com

(Image: Marc Averette/Wikimedia Commons)

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m quite surprised Boston isn’t on there with all of the colleges in and around Boston. But as with a lot of cities there’s such a big push for buying and supporting local book stores I guess it’s not too surprising.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
    • Yeah, cities that buy a lot from indies definitely won’t be on here.

      Like

      June 12, 2012
  2. San Diego, CA
    When we are not surfing, eating vegan burritos or doing yoga, we are reusing, recycling and re-purposing. So we just keep sharing our books with each other. 🙂 ❤ _/\_ Dude!

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  3. A squared = Ann Arbor. The hometown of the Borders brothers and lots of great, small bookstores is also a wonderful place to live.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  4. Alexandria tops the list of romance novels b/c they’re all working so much that they need some romance in their lives.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  5. This has a lot to do with population, I’m sure, so my city will never make it on this list. Haha! At least Pittsburgh made it!

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  6. Hurray! My city, Salt Lake City, made it! A little surprising, but not that much if I think about how many educated and well read people I know.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  7. I’m Canadian, so I only know a few of these cities by reputation. Not surprised at all by the presence of the university towns on the list, but a little puzzled by Orlando. When I’ve gone there on family vacations, it seems to be all about Mickey Mouse and firearms. Maybe there’s more literary depth to Orlando than I realized.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  8. I would be curious to see how the libraries in these places are rated compared to libraries in other cities not on the list. Good libraries might very well decrease your chances of getting on the list because people purchase fewer books when they can borrow them for free! Amazon can call it “well-read,” but the reality it’s a list of “who buys the most (per capita)?”

    Like

    June 11, 2012
    • Can’t speak for other places on the list, but the Ann Arbor (and other local libraries) are awesome. In fact, it was national library of the year several years back. We like to read, plain and simple.

      Like

      June 11, 2012
    • Good point. I live in an area with a very wide income range and a very well used library system – our circulation stats were over 6 million last year. I’m Canadian, so my city isn’t on the list, but I imagine our borrowing stats would negatively impact book sales.

      Like

      June 11, 2012
      • I love libraries. 😀 I don’t really buy that many books (although I own a Kindle and often “buy” free classics) because my county’s library system is pretty good. Also because I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books or anywhere to put them if I do buy them.

        Like

        June 11, 2012
        • I’m a librarian, so your comment makes me very happy!

          Like

          June 11, 2012
    • Yeah, that’s basically what it is–who buys the most from Amazon. But, still, it’s a pretty interesting list to look at.

      Like

      June 12, 2012
  9. Interesting. I’m Canadian, so my city isn’t up there. For some strange reason I wasn’t all that surprised that Virginia had most sales in romance.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
  10. Right now I don’t live too far from Cincinnati so I guess I should keep my eyes open for some events and stuff there. I thought for sure New York City would be there because they have tons of big authors do events in book stores there and stuff.

    Like

    June 11, 2012
    • Maybe NYC people just buy straight from stores, rather than ordering from Amazon. That would explain it.

      Like

      June 12, 2012
      • Thanks for defending NYC! We do love our bookstores. The fact that we have so many niche and independent stores alive and thriving makes me feel you’ve got it right. Shakespeare & Co, the Strand, Idlewild (travel), Books of Wonder (children’s)… all in walking distance from me and among my favorites. And I shop at B&N and Amazon, too.

        Plus, everyone I know reads TONS. You were talking about book snobs recently? Well, I’m a Manhattanite, which is a special kind of snob, and I cannot accept that we’ve been beaten by places Gainesville. Goodness.

        Like

        June 14, 2012
  11. I’m here to represent Berkeley. 🙂

    Like

    June 13, 2012
  12. Two years in a row we’ve been on this list and it confuses me so much every time. I think last year we were #1 (Miami btw). We don’t have a huge public transport system and seriously not many people read on the beach. So few of my friends are readers too. I really don’t get it. We do have two HUGE universities down here and one HUGE college so I’m going to blame them.

    Like

    June 15, 2012

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