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Posted on Tue, May 15, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

Ann Arbor the fourth 'Most Well-Read' city in America, according to

By Pete Cunningham

Pat yourselves on the back, Ann Arbor. You're the fourth "Most Well-Read" city in America.

Or at least online sales numbers suggest you are.

Based on data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June 1, 2011, Ann Arbor ranks fourth on a per-capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.

Having a major university within city limits apparently bodes well for being well-read. Four of the top five cities are home to top-tier schools with Boulder, Colo. (University of Colorado) ranked No. 5, Berkeley (University of California, Berkley) at No. 3, Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard, MIT) coming in at No. 2 and of course Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan at No. 4.

Grabbing the top ranking was Alexandria, Va., which is a bit of an outlier among the "college towns" in the top five. Alexandria does, however, boast some of the top private high schools in the Washington D.C. area and is home to many government employees who make the relatively short commute to the nation's capital.

Don't be quick to give politicians too much credit, though. Alexandria was tops in book sales in one category and it wasn't government, politics or foreign policy. It was romance novels.'s Top 20 "Most Well Read" cities in America:

  1. Alexandria, Va.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. Berkeley, Calif.
  4. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  5. Boulder, Colo.
  6. Miami
  7. Arlington, Va.
  8. Gainesville, Fla.
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Salt Lake City
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Knoxville, Tenn.
  13. Seattle
  14. Orlando, Fla.
  15. Columbia, S.C.
  16. Bellevue, Wash.
  17. Cincinnati
  18. St. Louis
  19. Atlanta
  20. Richmond, Va.

Pete Cunningham can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Meadow Snyder O'Brien

Fri, May 18, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

It seems like this list would be more accurately entitled: "Cities with the most access to the internet, computers, and funds for purchasing reading material on-line."


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

The poll didn't offer a rather obvious choice: an educated populace of former UofM students who never left after graduation but who stayed around for 50+ years and never gave up the habit of reading. We even created our own bookstore here, now gone and missed...


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

What happened to the idea of libraries being related to reading? I borrow my books!


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Based on 2008 data the American Library Association shows Ann Arbor District Library at the top of the circulation list for libraries serving a population area of at least 100,000. I suspect circulation has dropped some given that the area economy has improved since then.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

What woul expect when you have inclement weather for 8 months out of the year.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Well, that explains Berkeley, Calif. being 3# and northern Virginia being #1...????


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

Ummm..... Doeesn't this actually mean that Ann Arbor is near the bottom of the list of communities supporting local booksellers?


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

You wouldn't know it from the grammar and spelling from the commenters here.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

pretty sure? You don't know? Too far to the left and gone....see ya


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

So then we can assume you two are not from Ann Arbor, right? Because I'm pretty sure that I am from here.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

You have that right, Forever27.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

that's because most of the people who comment on this site aren't from ann arbor. small-town trolls who hate the city, but are completely dependent upon it for their economic support.

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

We used to be #1... and have Borders too! Now we are thrilled that Amazon throws us a bone.:P All the top places are university towns... obviously.

Linda Peck

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Interesting article! Thank you!


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Well read, but mostly book smart............


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

"Ann Arbor ranks fourth on a per-capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents" on a list of people who spend the most money on books and newspapers at The number means nothing more or less than that.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

You sure couldn't tell that by the way the city of Ann Arbor votes! Obama, Irwin, Hieftje


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

I will leave you to hold on to Obama's........good luck.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

Guess you'll just have to keep reading Sarah Palin's hand ... er, book.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, May 15, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Well I guess that means IQ has nothing to do with common sense because the lefty liberals do not show much of it.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

oops... too bad studies show liberals have an average higher IQ than conservatives. so...


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Sad isn't it.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

tHank a teechur 2dAy . . . : /


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

I luv it!


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Teachers come a "Dime a dozen"


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

I don't think that the title means much, since it is based on just one unscientific survey, book sales through Amazon. I'd like to see the numbers from all book sellers in addition to those checked out through the various library systems in the area.


Tue, May 15, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

i think this is more of a testament to the level of connectivity we have in this town. A significant portion of the population has internet access, as well as an income that allows for shopping at it isn't necessarily pointing towards being "well-read".