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The most well-read cities in America, according to the book gods (a.k.a. Amazon)

Written by
Joel Meares

We all know that, like Big Brother, Amazon is watching us (which is why the online shopping site frequently tries to sell this blogger calendars full of oiled-up firefighters). But did you know Amazon was judging you, too?

This week the mega retailer released its list of the most well-read cities in America, a ranking based on some magic sorcery (officially, a "compilation of sales data" from cities of more than 500,000 people) that reveals which cities' residents buy the most books, magazines and newspapers, in print and on Kindle, per capita. It is based on figures from April 2015-April 2016.

It turns out that by this measure the most well-read city in America is Seattle for the second year in a row. And the most read print title in Seattle—along with San Francisco, Tucson and Albuquerque—was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

So, "well-read" does not necessarily equal "reading well."

New York, the nation's literary capital, does not feature in Amazon's top 20. Which may mean that the stereotype of the erudite New Yorker sitting down to his latte, all be-turtlenecked and ready to expand his mind in the company of a good book, is poppycock. 

Or, it could mean that there are places to buy books that are not Amazon. Like bookstores. Of which there are still many in New York, including some fabulous independent shops, despite the Tom Hankses of the industry's efforts to crush the Meg Ryans. The figures could favor cities that have fewer options. 

Among the nation's largest cities, San Francisco ranks fourth on the list, while Chicago sits at 17. L.A., like New York is nowhere to be seen. 

Interestingly, Las Vegas is, according to Amazon's figures, a city of total book nerds, ranked at 6 on the list. What are the folks in Sin City reading? Grey, the 50 Shades novel told to us from the perspective of creepy Christian, was the number one Kindle title there. 

Here is the full list: 

The 20 most well-read cities in the country (according to Amazon)

1. Seattle

2. Portland, OR

3. Washington, D.C.

4. San Francisco

5. Austin

6. Las Vegas

7. Tucson

8. Denver

9. Albuquerque

10. San Diego

11. Baltimore

12. Charlotte 

13. Louisville

14. San Jose

15. Houston

16. Nashville

17. Chicago

18. Indianapolis

19. Dallas

20. San Antonio

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