Two Numbers That Point to a Healthy Future for Books

Comments

1
"New York City, which is supposedly the center of the literary universe, spends 28 percent less than the national average."

Perhaps New York City is the center of omphaloskepsis.

(Sorry, Brooklyn Reader, Dominic, etc.)
2
It's worth noting that New York City is much, much poorer than Seattle, while also having an excellent library system. This probably goes a long way toward explaining the discrepancy.



According to the Census:



Population below poverty level:

NYC: 20.3%

Seattle: 13.5%



Median household income:

NYC: $52,259

Seattle: $65,277



Per capita money income:

NYC: $32,010

Seattle: $43,237



So it's not hard to understand why someone in Seattle, who on average earns over $11,000 more than someone in NYC, would spend more on books instead of checking them out of the library.
3
Or to put it another way, if you gave everyone in NYC a 35% raise (which would make New Yorkers as rich as Seattlites), I bet they would buy a lot more books.
4
There's no such thing as "good news" concerning how much money Seattle spends on books. Does that make people here cooler, smarter, more sophisticated than those in Timbuktu, Algeria?
5
♥♥ spl ♥♥
6
What does Seattle's relative rate of book spending have to do with "a healthy future for books"?

Obviously some city in the country is going to have the highest rate. The fact that you happen to live there isn't significant to health of publishing in the US (or world).
7
I think the point is that this is good news for booksellers, or at least booksellers in Seattle, which is a fair point. It's just silly to mock New York for spending less on books, given the vast wealth gap between the cities. It's like an affluent suburbanite chiding a struggling blue-collar worker for buying non-organic. Except it's even sillier, because the library is in many ways a more socially responsible way to consume books than buying them from a store.
8
I would also bet, based on sheer population figures, that the total number of book buyers is greater in New York City than Seattle. Paul's from Maine, so maybe his NYC bash was reflexive. Westerners are more likely to disdain the East as a whole.
9
@4: Timbuktu is in Mali. Maybe Santa will bring you this for Christmas.
10
@9

Righteously sweet of you to notice the atlas error. You sophisticated traveler Slogger folk, take notice! don't mistakenly think you are in Algeria when your plane lands in Timbuktu!
11
Actually, here is maybe the most telling statistic (although it is also one that I have trouble wrapping my head around): NYC has retail sales per capita of $9,411. Seattle has retail sales per capita of $26,945. In other words, retail sales per capita in general are 286% higher in Seattle than in New York. So it's no wonder that book sales (like the sales of all other retail products, one assumes) are higher.

You might think NYC's numbers are depressed (or Seattle's inflated) because of car sales, considering that New Yorkers are far more likely to use mass transit. But that can't explain much of it: New York State's per capita retail sales are $11,879, while Washington's are $14,380. People just spend a ridiculous amount of money in Seattle.
12
I like reading a real book. Turn the pages, use my favorite bookmark, go back and re-read authors I haven't read for years. Also, it's kind of hard to read in bed on one of the many I-pad book thingies that are cumbersome and are really designed for persons on airplanes. Real books are cool.
14
We need a government program to make books available for free for "students, workers and intellectuals."
15
Well the good news is that after losing most of the bookstores in the country, it appears that the remaining ones are doing better. Perhaps because they are the only ones left, hopefully because the novelty of buying from Amazon is wearing off. One can only hope.