inTouch: Well-Read or Well-Intentioned?
Amazon recently revealed its list of the “most well-read cities in America” and no doubt this list brought civic pride to some, while causing dismay in others.
When someone boasted to me that his city (Arlington, Virginia–also where WETA is based) is Number 10 on the list, I felt compelled to note that the city I used to live in (Alexandria, Virginia) is listed as Number 2. The city where I currently reside (Washington, D.C.) is listed as Number 14, but bragging rights must be claimed how ever they can be claimed.
Overall, the D.C. area is well-represented on this list, but the Number 1 city is Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can, however, view this list with a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, Amazon used “sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since January 1, 2011″ to compile the list, so this is a very focused look at the country’s reading habits.
Despite Amazon’s major impact on reading, everyone does not get their books, magazines or newspapers from Amazon. For example, some people (including myself) live in areas included on this list and fit the patterns it illustrates, even though we do not buy electronic or paper books from Amazon. I frequent brick-and-mortar bookstores and do not own a Kindle. (So why was I bragging about my former hometown’s spot on the list?)
Also, despite the country’s economic woes, some people may buy reading materials they would like to read without ever really reading them. Slate explored this idea with movies when it asked readers about the Netflix rentals they received but never watched. So there is a chance that some people in these well-read cities could simply be well-intentioned.
Bottom line, everyone likes to feel smart. Seeing that your area is considered “well-read” is a reason to rejoice. And if your city is not on the list, you can still rejoice in being well-read on your own.
Is your area on the list? Do you think one major retailer’s sales constitute a “well-read” list?