Minneapolis ousts Seattle as most literate city
Like a top-heavy tower of books, Seattle tumbled from its ranking as "America's Most Literate City" this year. The new winner: Minneapolis...
Seattle Times science reporter
Like a top-heavy tower of books, Seattle tumbled from its ranking as "America's Most Literate City" this year.
The new winner: Minneapolis, ending Seattle's two-year reign on top.
The Emerald City only slipped to second place, but some of the local literati took it hard.
"I don't believe it," said Tracy Taylor, general manager for Elliott Bay Book Co. in Pioneer Square, which was bursting with post-Christmas customers Thursday. "And we're not even having a sale," Taylor noted.
But the statistics don't lie — even though they also don't capture all the nuances of what makes one city more literate than another, said Mark McLaughlin, spokesman for Central Connecticut State University, which compiles the annual list.
"We can only provide a kind of macro look."
The rankings, originated and authored by CCSU's president John W. Miller, compare the country's 69 biggest cities in terms of libraries, bookstores, educational levels, newspaper readership, locally published magazines and Internet resources.
Seattle continues to lead the nation in number of bookstores per 10,000 people and in the percentage of adult residents with high-school diplomas and bachelor's degrees or higher.
Seattle dipped slightly this year in Internet resources, a measure of library Internet connections, Internet book orders and online readership of local newspapers.
But the city's library circulation, staff and branches rose from seventh in the nation in 2006 to fourth this year.
Other hits to the city's literary standing came in the categories of locally published magazines and journals and newspaper readership, both of which fell compared with 2006.
"While Americans are becoming more and more 'educated,' they are reading newspapers less," Miller wrote.
If it helps Seattle's bruised ego, the lineup of cities that didn't even crack the top five includes: San Francisco (No. 7), Boston (10), Baltimore (27), New York (28) and Los Angeles (53). El Paso, Texas, and Stockton, Calif., bring up the rear at Nos. 68 and 69, respectively.
But Taylor still isn't buying Seattle's fall from grace.
The blockbuster book across most of the country this year was the final installment in the Harry Potter series, she said. But at Elliott Bay, the top seller was Seattle writer Sherman Alexie's National Book Award-winning novel for young people, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
"To me, that says this is a pretty literary city."
Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or email@example.com
|Nation's best read|
Seattle is the second-most-
literate city in the country, according to a survey by Central Connecticut State University. The list also shows each city's 2006 and 2005 rankings.
|3.||St. Paul, Minn.||5||9.5|
|Source: Central Connecticut State U.|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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