For the third year in a row, Washington, D.C., is "America's most literate city," according to an annual statistical study ranking 75 cities, released Thursday.
The study, conducted by Central Connecticut State University president John Miller, is based on data that includes the number of bookstores, library resources, newspaper circulation, Internet resources and educational levels.
Miller says the study is aimed at shifting attention from school test scores on reading "to how much people are reading, and where are they reading the most."
In a digital age, the survey expands the definition of reading by counting online book orders, e-book readers and page views on local newspaper websites.
The rankings for the top 50 cities in 2012, with comparisons to 2011 (the designation .5 indicates a tie):
1. Washington, D.C. (same as in 2011)
2. Seattle (same as in 2011)
3. Minneapolis (same as in 2011)
4. Pittsburgh (up from No. 6)
5. Denver (up from No. 10)
6. St. Paul (up from No. 12)
7. Boston (down from No. 5)
8. Atlanta (down from No. 4)
9. St. Louis (down from No. 8)
10. Portland, Ore. (down from No. 11)
11. San Francisco (down from No. 9)
12. Cincinnati (down from No. 7)
13. Kansas City, Mo. (up from No. 14)
14. Cleveland (down from No. 13)
15.5 Honolulu (up from No. 19)
15.5 Oakland (down from No. 15)
17. Virginia Beach (up from No. 20)
18. Raleigh, N.C. (down from No. 16)
19. Baltimore (down from No. 18)
20. Tampa (up from No. 25)
21. New York (up from No. 22.5)
22. Tulsa (down from No. 21)
23. Austin (down from No. 22.5)
24. Lexington-Fayette, Ky. (same as 2011)
25. New Orleans (down from No. 17)
26. Nashville-Davidson (up from No. 27)
27. Colorado Springs (down from No. 26)
28. Lincoln, Neb. (same as 2011)
29. Buffalo (up from No. 33.5)
30. Philadelphia (up from No. 31)
31. Chicago (down from No. 29)
32. Columbus, Ohio (down from No. 30)
33. Newark (up from No. 35)
34. Miami (up from No. 36)
35. San Jose (down from No. 32)
36. San Diego (down from No. 33.5)
37. Indianapolis (same as 2011)
38. Omaha (up from No. 40.5)
39. Albuquerque (down from No. 38)
40. Milwaukee (up from No. 48)
41. Fort Wayne, Ind. (down from No. 39)
42. Sacramento (up from No. 44)
43. Greensboro, N.C. (up from No. 40.5)
44. Toledo (down from No. 43)
45. Plano, Texas (up from No. 46)
46. Detroit (up from No. 49.5)
47. Dallas (up from No. 51)
48. Tucson (up from No. 55)
49. Louisville-Jefferson Co., Ky. (down from No. 42)
50. Charlotte (down from No. 45)
Miller says some of his findings seem counterintuitive:
•Cleveland came in No. 1 in public library resources, which includes holdings, circulation and staff. "Cleveland may be a rust-belt city, but it continues to invest in its libraries," Miller says.
•Boston is No. 27 in education despite being the home to scores of colleges. "It has a lot of people with degrees and graduates, but also high high school dropout rates."
Miller says that "people seem to like rankings - whether it's the cities with the best singles bars or the best hospitals. This is a way to focus a bit of attention on where literacy is practiced and supported."
But Miller notes a "troubling trend": Spending on reading materials, both digital and print, has declined 22% since 2000. In the same period, federal statistics show spending on other forms of entertainment is up 25%.
He acknowledges that his study, limited to cities with populations of at least 250,000, measures quantity not quality, "which would be more subjective."
Details of the study are posted at ccsu.edu/AMLC2012.
By Bob Minzesheimer