Well-Read Cities

I read a GalleyCat article about the most well-read cities in America. The list was curated by Amazon, and it’s based on sales of books, magazines, and newspapers in both Kindle and print format. According to the list, Alexandria, Virginia, was the most well-read city, which doesn’t really surprise me. The entire Washington, D.C. area is supposedly full of intelligent people (no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on), who I imagine would enjoy reading as a hobby and not just as something boring that’s required for school.

The list made me think of stereotypes regarding certain states in America. For instance, when you think of Alabama, you might think of uneducated hillbillies sitting on front porches with shotguns. When you think of Alaska, you might think of Eskimos and igloos. I think every state has a certain set of stereotypes, and of course, everyone has their own impression of a state based on how much or how little they know about it. Some states might be thought of as more “intelligent” or “well-read” than others. On the list of well-read cities, there were a bunch of Southern cities listed, and only a few Northern ones. You’d think that New York City (or some city in New York) would be on the list since the majority of the publishing world is located there. And I was rather surprised that the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina wasn’t on the list.

But the good thing about the list is that the well-read cities aren’t all concentrated in one area. America is reading, and for this, we should be happy, stereotypes aside. But of course, to get a better list, perhaps we shouldn’t rely on Amazon to curate it – after all, people who buy books may not necessarily be the ones to read those same books; they may have gotten them as gifts or something. Maybe public libraries would be a better source of information about America’s reading habits.

4 thoughts on “Well-Read Cities

  1. Interesting. I think Britain has the same stereo-types – the more southern you go, the more posh people think it gets. But I wouldn’t say posh, just… southern. Another example would be Yorkshire which people in London would describe as big belly beer drinkers. However, when you go up there, it’s not like that. But I guess that’s how the tradition goes.


    • I think you’re going to get stereotypes no matter where you go. It’s part of human nature to categorize things.


  2. Fascinating survey, but you bring up such an important point, Maggie, about Amazon doing the survey. There are a ton of readers here in Portland, Oregon, but many of us swear by our local independent bookstores. And Powell’s, the biggest of the bunch. And libraries of course. Most of my friends don’t use Amazon as a result of where we live and what’s available here.


    • That’s right. I always go to the library or visit the independent bookstore in my town. If I order books online, I don’t go through Amazon unless it’s the only place I can find a particular book.


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