What Amazon’s Well-Read List Doesn’t Tell You

amazon well-read listI am a reader. A big reader. I abide by the mantra that you can't have too many books ... ever. I decorate with books. There are books in my bathroom. I haven't given over to the paperless book (yet), but I see Kindles and Nooks everywhere. When I buy books, it is usually online, either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. So, naturally, I was intrigued when Amazon announced their "Most Well-Read Cities in the U.S." list.

What did it say? That Cambridge, Massachusetts was the most well-read city in the U.S., followed by Alexandria, Virginia and Berkeley, California. Okay, all of these cities are around colleges -- hello, Harvard! -- have many professors, so the "well-read" label seems to fit ... but is this really what the list is telling us? Methinks not.


Amazon says it measured this list by tallying book, magazine and newspaper sales. And, I guess, those folks in Cambridge bought the most. Not only the most by total, but they also bought the most non-fiction books. Who bough the most, say, books about food? Boulder, Colorado, which clocked in at number 5 overall. I guess if you want a good meal, head West.

This is all well and good, but I think this list isn't measuring who is well-read, who has the most avid readers, who is book-y. It's really just measuring who buys the most books, who shops online for books the most. We have no clue if they are actually reading the books they buy, we just know they bought them.

So, maybe the list should be "Cities With the Most Online Book Shoppers" or "Cities That Spend the Most Moolah on Books," because, really, that is what it tells us. Doesn't tell us squat about reading. I know, how about "Cities With the Most People Who Spend Hours On Their Computers and Don't Go to The Mall to Buy Books?" Okay, yeah, that's a little long. Though I would be interested to see how the brick-and-mortar book stores in those cities are doing.

Do you buy books online?


Image via Aurelijus Valeisa/Flickr

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