January 10, 2011 / 10:45 PM / 8 years ago

Washington ranks as most well-read city: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Washington is not only the political capital of the United States, it is also the most literate city in the nation, according to a study released on Monday.

People read Monday's U.S. newspapers front pages outside the Newseum in Washington November 29, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Washington came in first followed by Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh as the most well-read urban area, the study from Central Connecticut State University showed.

Researchers at the university assessed the country’s top reading cities in terms of newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

“This set of factors measures people’s use of their literacy and thus presents a large-scale portrait of our nation’s cultural vitality,” said Jack Miller, the lead author of the study and Central Connecticut State president.

“From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation,” he said.

This long term view has researchers worried about current literacy trends. Newspaper readership and circulation has plummeted since the annual survey of most literate cities began in 2003, and bookstores are disappearing, the report said.

In Minneapolis, where there were 14 independent bookstores for every 10,000 people, there are now only six, while Boston has gone from nine per 10,000 to three. Nationwide the number has gone from nine to six.

Online purchase of books is increasing but it is not making up for an overall decline in reading, according to the study.

Online book purchases have grown by an average of 83 percent since 2007.

The researchers said public libraries have remained a bastion of literacy.

“Even in these economically embattled times, many cities appear to be providing their citizens with rich resources for developing and maintaining literate behaviors,” Miller said.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton

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