What happened to New York, Chicago, and Boston? Los Angeles? San Francisco?
Old news today: On May 20 Amazon announced its list of twenty “Most Well-Read Cities” in the United States. What does “well-read” mean? In this case it means nothing but numbers: this list is about sales figures, not about being “well-read” in the generally accepted sense. Or perhaps quantity of books bought is the new accepted sense, relegating quality to the status of nonissue. And let’s remember that books bought doesn’t necessarily correlate with books read.
Actually, Amazon’s list isn’t strictly about book sales (print and Kindle, btw), since magazine and newspaper sales were included. Does Iron Man magazine count when we’re assessing “well-read”?
Affluence might have something to do with a city’s getting onto the “Most Well-Read” list. People with more money can certainly buy more reading matter–but does having cash to spend on books predict standards for choosing them? Heading the list of “well-read” cities: Alexandria, VA, in which Dan Brown’s Inferno was the best-selling book, followed by Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Strange trio.
If you want to see the whole list (you really do: five out of twenty winners are in one single state, and it’s not the one you’re thinking of), go here.
BULLETIN: Authors, what cities have you been hitting on your book tours? Stop. Rethink. Amazon has done you a favor! Plan your next tour to include as many of the “Most Well-Read Cities” as possible. You can thank Geralyn Lucas for that idea.