Amazon’s Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities
April 30, 2013

Amazon’s Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities

Recently, released results on its third annual Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in America list. Now, these cities are based on “compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June 1, 2012, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.” This means that this data is specifically based on the sales from and does not include physical book stores or other book sites like Barnes & Noble. Of course, is definitely a serious contributor to book sales and can definitely contribute much insight into the cities that read.

So the Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in America based on’s sales from the last year are:

  1. Alexandria, Va.
  2. Knoxville, Tenn.
  3. Miami, Fla.
  4. Cambridge, Mass.
  5. Orlando, Fla.
  6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  7. Berkeley, Calif.
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Columbia, S.C.
  10. Pittsburgh, Penn.
  11. St. Louis, Mo.
  12. Salt Lake City, Utah
  13. Seattle, Wash.
  14. Vancouver, Wash.
  15. Gainesville, Fla.
  16. Atlanta, Ga.
  17. Dayton, Ohio
  18. Richmond, Va.
  19. Clearwater, Fla.
  20. Tallahassee, Fla.

It looks like from the Redwood forest to the gulf stream waters and all places in between Americans are reading. Amazon found some pretty interesting data about what the people in these cities were reading.

  • Knoxville residents also purchased the most books in the Romance category—top titles include Fifty Shades of Grey and Married by Mistake.
  • Blockbuster novel Gone Girl was the best-selling book overall in Alexandria, Va., followed by the three titles in the Fifty Shades trilogy.
  • Cambridge, Mass. continues to grow the most budding entrepreneurs. This locale topped the list for ordering the most books in the Business & Investing category, as well as overall nonfiction, with the top titles purchased being Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most and StrengthsFinder 2.0.

And several cities were new to’s Top 20 list including Vancouver, Wash., Dayton, Ohio, Clearwater, Fla., and Tallahassee, Fla. Knoxville, Tenn., made the biggest gain this year jumping from number 12 on last year’s list to number 2 this year. Ten spots is definitely quite an accomplishment worthy of recognition. Way to gom, Knoxville!

So what does this prove? Well, first of all, this proves that people are still reading, and they are reading all over the country. This also proves that people are still interested in reading a lot. And that people read in multiple media forms as well. With the invent of e-readers like Kindle, many feared that traditional reading from physical books would wither away, but that is not what is happening. People are reading from e-readers, but they are still holding their books valuable as well.

Reading is alive and well. This is good news. Now we just have to get every city reading as much as these 20 cities are. The more we read, the more we improve our vocabulary and reasoning abilities. The more we read, the more we learn and understand. Reading is quite possibly one of the most important activities we can do, and we should do it more.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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