Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Where are the bookstores?
by Sandra Parshall
Answer quickly, without taking time to ponder the variables: Which state do you think has the most bookstores per capita?
No, it’s not New York, and it’s not California. It’s Montana.
Montana comes in first in Publishers Weekly’s survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. With a population of 1,005,141 and 64 bookstores, Montana has a per capita ratio of 1 store to 15,705 residents.
Wyoming is second, with 35 stores serving a population of 576,412, and Vermont ranks third with 38 stores for 616,011 residents. The rest of the top 10 in per capita ratings are Alabama, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.
Dead last is New Jersey, which has 217 stores but a population of 8,864,500, giving it a per capita ratio of 1 to 40,851.
The Publishers Weekly report gives numbers for all states and DC. Every type of bookseller was counted: chains, independents, Christian bookshops, and big-box stores like Costco that have book departments.
Most states, PW found, have more traditional bookstores than big-box stores and more independents than chains. The top three states in the number of bookstores per capita have few Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million outlets. Vermont has only one chain store, one big-box retailer, and 36 independents. However, six states – Arizona, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin – have more big-box stores than traditional bookstores.
The largest states in the country are all in the bottom half of bookstores-per- capita rankings:
California has 1,185 stores, more than any other state, but they serve a huge population of 38,041,430, so its ratio is 1 to 32,102 and it ranks 46th.
Texas, with a population of 26,059,203 and 1,004 booksellers (second highest number in the nation), is 35th in per capita rankings.
New York is 49th, with 19,570,261 residents and 505 bookstores.
Florida, a bit smaller than New York with a population of 19,317,568, has more bookstores – 797 – giving it a ratio of 1 to 24,238. Florida ranks 29th among all states.
Overall, the survey found that the U.S. has 12,703 booksellers and 313,904,193 residents, a national ratio of 1 store per 24,053 people.
An interesting finding is that states with the most Christian booksellers tend to rank higher in the per capita ratings. In many states, the presence of Christian stores is the deciding factor in the per capita rank.
I was a little surprised to discover that my state, Virginia, has 372 bookstores. (Where are they?) With a population of 8,185,866, the state has a per capita ratio of 1 to 22,005 and is 26th on the PW list.
You can see the story and the rankings here. Where does your state stand?