These Are America’s Most Well-Read Cities

Did your bookish burg make’s list?

Seattle reading
Isa Sorensen/Creative Commons Flickr

How likely are you to pick up a book on the subway, in line at the bank or before you head to bed? If you live in Seattle, Portland, or Washington, D.C., the answer may be “very likely.” Those were the top-three cities on a list of America’s Most Well-Read released this week by bookselling giant

The annual list looks at cities with more than 500,000 residents and ranks them based on their per-capita purchases of books, magazines, and newspapers, both in print and in Kindle format. These cities made the top ten:

1. Seattle
2. Portland
3. Washington, D.C.
4. San Francisco
5. Austin
6. Las Vegas
7. Tucson
8. Denver
9. Albuquerque
10. San Diego

It’s the second year in a row that Seattle has topped the list, but California reigned supreme in bookish states with three most well-read cities on the 20-city list. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, which has been called the fastest-selling adult novel ever, was the top fiction title in five of the top ten cities, with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up dominating nonfiction sales in four of the top ten cities.

These days, Amazon dominates both e-commerce and the book market. The Wall Street Journal’s Lucy Feldman reports that the retailer accounts for 45 percent of all books sold in the United States, and its clout is so absolute that publishers have changed even their cover design strategies to stand out on the site. The retailer’s practices have long been controversial, sparking antitrust lawsuits and widespread criticism for driving smaller booksellers out of business. But booksellers aren’t taking the transformation of the industry by one website just lying down: As Hillel Italie reports for The Associated Press, independent bookstores are reporting higher sales in 2016, fueled in part by the leveling off of ebook sales and the decline of other large chains like Barnes & Noble.

But whether you buy your books on Amazon, purchase from your local indie or prefer to check them out from your library, it’s hard to argue that living in one of America’s most well-read cities is anything but an honor. Did your city make the top 20 list? Click here to check it out.

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