Via Berkeleyside, I learned about Amazon.com’s best-read cities list. The top five are Alexandria, VA; Cambridge, MA; Berkeley, CA; Ann Arbor, MI; Boulder, CO. The populations (2010 Census estimates) of these cities are 139,966; 105,162; 112,580; 113,934; and 97,385.
You won’t be surprised, then, to learn that the survey only includes cities with populations of over 100,000. A lot of these very high-ranked cities barely get over that line. Amazon hasn’t released the whole list as far as I can tell, but I would suspect that the worst-read cities of population also are just barely over 100,000 in population. To be fair, I’ve cherry-picked a bit here; #6 Miami and #9 Washington, D. C., for example, are quite a bit larger than 100,000.
But we expect larger deviations from the norm in smaller samples. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that, say, some 100,000-person portion of San Francisco or Boston is better-read than Berkeley or Cambridge. Perhaps the list of most well-read zip codes, then, would be more revealing.