Alexandria, Va.
Alexandria, Va.

Amazon released its fourth annual list of America’s most well-read cities this morning, and Alexandria, Va., continued its reign at the top of the ranking, as its residents maintained their status as the biggest bookworms in the country.

But Seattle fared very well in the list, vaulting into fourth place this year from number 13 last year, according to Amazon’s number-crunchers. That was the biggest jump from 2013 to 2014.

How does this work, exactly? As explained by the company, “The ranking was determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format from April 2013-April 2014, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.”

Here’s the full ranking of the top 20 cities, along with factoids from Amazon about different cities on the list.

  1. Alexandria, Va.
  2. Miami, Fla.
  3. Knoxville, Tenn.
  4. Seattle, Wash.
  5. Orlando, Fla.
  6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  7. Berkeley, Calif.
  8. Cambridge, Mass.
  9. Cincinnati, Ohio
  10. Columbia, S.C.
  11. St. Louis, Mo.
  12. Pittsburgh, Penn.
  13. Vancouver, Wash.
  14. Salt Lake City, Utah
  15. Atlanta, Ga.
  16. Gainesville, Fla.
  17. Dayton, Ohio
  18. Clearwater, Fla.
  19. Richmond, Va.
  20. Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Inferno by Dan Brown was the best-selling book overall in Alexandria, Va., followed by Divergent by Veronica Roth andThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Divergent was the most-read book by Goodreads users in Alexandria.
  • While Alexandria, Va. bought the most books overall, Cambridge, Mass. bought the most print books, and Knoxville, Tenn. purchased the most Kindle books.
  • Seattle, Wash. made the biggest gain this year, jumping from the #13 spot in 2013 to #4 this year.
  • Cambridge, Mass. continues to grow more budding entrepreneurs than any other city, ordering the most books in the Business & Investing category. Top titles include Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and perennial best seller StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
  • Looking only at cities with more than 1 million residents, San Diego, Calif. is the most well-read.
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  • Steve

    Unless people in your city prefer bookstores…

    • coyote4444

      or libraries

  • Benjamin Lukoff

    Of course, we don’t know which books were purchased… if they were all romance novels and barbecue cookbooks, then that doesn’t mean much!

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Alexandria on the big win!

  • Don

    Since these are sales by Amazon, they may represent the demise of local, independent book stores, and of course don’t account for library use. This is a classic case of being misled by statistics.

  • Gina

    Very poorly written Todd Bishop, with
    redundancies like, “…maintained their status as the country’s biggest
    bookworms in the country,” and, “…vaulting into fourth place from number 13
    last year to number 4 this year.”

  • Lisa

    if you are measuring “well-read” by book sales, then okay, sure, but these results run the risk of being more class-biased than you are looking for. this list might look quite different if you factored in library usage and circulation– one could argue that people are just as likely, if not _more_ likely, to read books they check out from the library than ones they buy at a bookstore or through amazon. there are places in this country where people might not have the money to buy a lot of books but are hungry for them, and thus are heavy users of their local libraries, enthusiastic & voracious readers, and quite well-read.

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