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At least they think so. Every year Amazon comes out with their ‘Most Well-Read Cities in America’ list based exclusively on their sales numbers. Shouldn’t it be called ‘Cities that bought the most books from us’ list?

Portland, NYC and Nashville aren’t on there, but they all have kick-ass libraries. These are cities with tons of students and lower income creatives who most likely have a close personal relationship with the nice-dressed fellow at their local library. For instance, the hold list for a new book at the New York Public Library often ranges from 10-60 people.

This list bugs me for a number of reasons. For one, it’s dumb. Two, false advertising. But the real reason the suits at Amazon are grinning ear-to-ear is because the name of the list implies that people are only buy reading material from Amazon. If you’re going to make a list with such a grand title, you really need to earn it. Compile library check-outs, newspaper subscriptions and sales data from ALL the major booksellers.

Amazon could take a cue from Men’s Health. When they created the Porn Capitals list they had multiple criteria including dirty rentals bought, rented and sold, the number of porn stores and other subscription data. Miami, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Orlando, Columbia, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta all appear on both lists. The point is that Men’s Health made the effort to be factually accurate about porn consumption.

Perhaps Amazon had read Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics one too many times. Or maybe they believe they can will their competition out of existence by the power of a press release?

Remember these guys, Amazon?

Powell’s Books

Indie Bound will hook you up with an independent book seller near you

Barnes and Noble 

Abe Books

Blackwell’s for academic and specialized books

Strand is a NYC institution

And here’s a The Daily Beast’s list of just a few of the country’s greatest independent book stores.

The Amazon Handbook