Like to read? Head to Minneapolis and Seattle

Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:09pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Minneapolis, Seattle, Washington, St Paul and San Francisco are the most well-read cities in the United States, a new survey shows, but the country's literacy appears to be lagging globally.

The study by John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, assessed cities with more than 250,000 people and focused on newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

Ranked No. 6 to 10 were Atlanta, Denver, Boston, St Louis, Cincinnati and Portland, while at the bottom of the list of 71 cities were Anaheim, Bakersfield, Corpus Christi, Stockton and El Paso.

"A literate society tends to practice many forms of literacy not just one or another," Miller said.

"Cities ranked highly for having better-used libraries also have more booksellers; cities with more booksellers also have more people buying books online; and cities with newspapers with high per capita circulation rates also have a high proportion of people reading newspapers online," he said.

Miller, who is also working on a similar study of international literacy, and said that preliminary findings based on per capita paid newspaper circulation, showed the United States ranked No. 31.

He said that worldwide some 1.4 billion people read a daily newspaper. Japan's newspaper circulation is three times that of the United States, while South Korea, Singapore, Venezuela, Finland, Greece, Britain, Sweden and Norway all significantly surpass U.S. circulation rates.

"While it is too early in this study to draw conclusions, it is nevertheless striking that newspaper readership rates in the U.S.'s global economic competitors are significantly higher than in the US," Miller said.

"Since literacy is generally regarded as a barometer of a nation's social, cultural, and economic health, perhaps these findings are cause for national concern," he added.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Patricia Reaney)

<p>A commuter reads his book while riding the subway in New York October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>