Monthly Archives: May 2012


There’s a new CNN story that lists the most well-read cities in the United States. The top city? Alexandria, Virginia. Cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin don’t even make the list.

Here’s the problem: the metric they’re using is the number of books and magazines and such that were purchased from customers in Alexandria, Virginia, bought the most books, magazines and newspapers in the past year, making it the most well-read city in America on a per capita basis, according to rankings from the popular e-commerce website. Two other Virginia cities were in the top 20: Arlington ranked seventh and Richmond 20th.


I am rather well-read, but I don’t purchase books from Amazon. (Their personalization algorithm creeps me out.) I tend to purchase books from Barnes and Noble, both in paper and for my Nook. And – gasp! – I use a library. I wouldn’t even make the list, but my collection of books scattered throughout our home would tell you a different story.

By comparison, there is a study of the most literate cities, in which Minneapolis ranks third. Their criteria includes number of bookstores and library resources. Seems to me that’s a better benchmark than what is being purchased from one retailer.

Purchasing power shouldn’t be the criterion for being well-read. After all, that’s what libraries are for.


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