Most Well-read Cities In America
May 18, 2012

Most Well-read Cities In America

Michael Harper for

Have you ever taken a look around your home town and noticed the majority of people around you have their nose in a book?

If you live in Alexandria, Virginia, such an occurrence may be so commonplace you wouldn´t even give it a second thought.

This week, the world´s top bookseller,, released some stats about which cities bought the most books, magazines and newspapers in the past year. Topping their list of the 20 most well-read cities in America is Alexandria, VA. Two other Virginia cities also placed in the top 20, Arlington at 7 and Richmond coming in last at 20.

As they say, Virginia is for lovers, and according to CNN, Alexandrians´ were more inclined to buy romance novels from than any other genre.

The second most well-read city in America is none other than Cambridge, Mass., home of Harvard and MIT. With a population of more than 100,000, Amazon says Cambridge residents were more likely to buy books from the business and investing categories.

As you might expect, other college towns and University homes also made the list: Berkeley, Boulder, Columbia and Gainesville all represented their collegiate home towns, reading as much as they could.

“It's great to see that we are truly a nation of readers, with representation on this list from every region of the country," Chris Schluep, senior editor of books for, said in a statement announcing the results.

This is the second annual list compiled of the 20 most read cities with populations of 100,000 or more. To determine where each city placed in the list, Amazon looked at sales data on books, ebooks, magazines and newspapers since last June.

Of course, such a list is likely to induce some slightly judgmental jesting. As such, it is important to note that many of the cities did, in fact live up to their stereotypes.

For instance, Cambridge´s aforementioned affinity with all things business and financial.

Boulder, Colorado is considered one of the  fittest cities in America. As such, Boulder residents spent most of their time in the Health, Fitness and Dieting category.

As for Berkeley, California, most of the books being sent to these residents were from the Travel category, suggesting Berkeley is a city of jet-setters.

This year´s list may also surprise some, as some of our nation´s largest cities and urban centers did not make the list. Notably absent are cities Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

Amazon´s home town of Seattle, Washington did make the list, though they sit on the lower end at number 13, edged out by cities such as Miami, Florida, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

As summer draws nigh and people begin their summer reading lists, Amazon hopes to encourage those cities on and off the list to either protect their place or knock another city out of the running.

"As the summer reading season gets into full swing, we're excited to reveal our second annual Most Well-Read Cities list," said Schluep.

The entire list is as follows:

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