Amazon Reveals List of Biggest Book-Buying Cities in the US

4814248153_aca54088d0_bOn Monday Amazon announced its annual list of what it would call the most well-read cities in the US, only that’s not quite what the list says.

Do you know how the mainstream press likes to take limited book publishing industry stats and misinterpret them as representing the entire book market?

Amazon is setting up the press to make a similar error today with its “Most Well-Read Cities in America” list.

The retailer has compiled a list of the 20 US metro areas with the highest concentrations in “purchases of all books, magazines and newspapers in both Kindle and print format from April 2015 to April 2016” per capita. (You can find the list at the end of the post.)

They’re calling it a list of well-read cities, but as you can see from Amazon’s description, this list only reflects the buying habits of Amazon’s customers and not anyone’s actual reading habits.

It doesn’t reflect books checked out of the library, or bought from other sources. Heck it doesn’t tell us anything about reading habits at all, just where Amazon’s customers are located.

If you want to assemble a list of cities which are actually well-read then you’d need to use a data source which touches on reading rather than book buying. Isn’t it a shame Amazon doesn’t own a social network which could give them that data?

P.S. The city in the lead image is Toronto, yes. That was an intentional joke.

  1. Seattle, Wash.
  2. Portland, Ore.
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Austin, Texas
  6. Las Vegas, Nev.
  7. Tucson, Ariz.
  8. Denver, Colo.
  9. Albuquerque, N.M.
  10. San Diego, Calif.
  11. Baltimore, Md.
  12. Charlotte, N.C.
  13. Louisville, Ky.
  14. San Jose, Calif.
  15. Houston, Texas
  16. Nashville, Tenn.
  17. Chicago, Ill.
  18. Indianapolis, Ind.
  19. Dallas, Texas
  20. San Antonio, Texas

image by Greg Knapp

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. jim heskett24 May, 2016

    seattle and portland make sense to be at the top, since it rains all the time in those cities.

  2. Smart Debut Author24 May, 2016

    Notably absent: NYC.

    Seems the home of traditional publishing does more pontificating about culture than reading.

  3. […] has released a list of what it calls the “Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities” in the US. While some could quibble with the propriety of calling a city “well-read” based merely on how much reading matter it buys from Amazon—as […]

  4. DaveMich24 May, 2016

    Assuming that it’s not per-capita it doesn’t prove anything at all except that they sell more books to larger cities than to smaller ones.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top