Amazon.com, the company that ultimately wants to be the only place to buy things, attracted some attention in recent days by breathlessly releasing their list of the “Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in America.” They determined this by using sales data of books, magazines and newspapers (huh what?), and on a per capita basis, they found that Alexandria ranked second in the country, Arlington was tenth and D.C. 14th so far this year.
Cambridge, Mass., which has a college or something there, was ranked first, among cities (or counties, since they’re including Arlington) with a population of at least 100,000. Alexandria also ranked first in purchasing of children’s books, Amazon’s press release noted.
But when you’re releasing a “Most Well-Read” list, does that take into account books checked out of libraries, printed materials purchased in actual stores, or e-books purchased through someone other than Amazon?
So I called Amazon a couple of times this week to see how they compiled the list, but they were much too busy to call me back. It seems like gathering data from actual brick-and-mortar bookstores, and libraries, and other e-book sellers, would be a lot of work, and the press release discussed sales in the Kindle format, which is Amazon’s alone. So it’s safe to infer that Alexandria and Arlington are not necessarily the best-read cities in America, they’re simply two of Amazon.com’s best customers. Woo hoo.