Hong Kong Argentina Edinburgh fact of the day

Over the past two years, 18 cities have reported how many bookstores they have, and 20 have reported on their public libraries.

Hong Kong leads the pack with 21 bookshops per 100,000 people, though last time Buenos Aires sent in its count, in 2013, it was the leader, with 25. New York does OK, with around 840 bookstores for 8.4 million people, but London, whose population is only slightly bigger than New York, counts only 360 stores.

Taipei and Madrid do well too.  In terms of what you actually get, I think of Buenos Aires and Madrid as standing at the top.  My casual impression is that a lot of the Asian bookstores are more vocational than useful to a reader such as myself or Michael Orthofer.

For libraries Edinburgh is #1 by more than a factor of five.

Comments

Are all bookstores counted including the little second-hand shops?

When I lived in the London, the bookshops I went to tended to be much larger than the ones I go to in Australia. I don't think I've even seen a Waterstones without at least two floors.

The US also has (or had) large booshops, but mabe they New York a fatter tail of small bookshops than London?

I'd guess that in London WH smith isn't being counted, as it's more of a general newsagent. Most sell books though (trashy ones, if I was being a snob, popular ones, if I wasn't), and there are an awful lot of them

Amsterdam? If used bookstores count, and they should, it must be #1 in the world.

Amsterdam isn't the same anymore, since DeSlegte (Kalvestraat) closed, several years ago.
A marvel, at 4 levels.
A full day work to plow through if you have more than one topic of interest, and impossible to exit without two heavy bags of books, both discount (ramsch) and second hand.

In terms of Asian book stores, Kinokuniya is number 1

Surprisingly Sydney has more stores, but Melbourne is the city of literature. Probably because it has more impoverished wannabe writers.

Kinokuniya has stores wherever there are significant numbers of Japanese people, including the US and Taiwan. I have studied the Chinese language for many years, and Taipei has a large number of bookstores (including Kinokuniya) where you can find many general-interest books, and even a fair number of books by scholars.

The Eslite bookstore in Xinyi is particularly good, with lots of eats and shopping on the lower floors and three floors of wall-to-wall books, including a sizable European-language collection; in addition to numerous Chinese books, I picked up my English copy of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and a Nietzsche reader there.

"Surprisingly Sydney has more stores, but Melbourne is the city of literature"

Whaaa? There's Glebebooks, Abbey's & Dymock's in the CBD & Berkelouw in Paddington. Ariel is a joke, & Borders has been gone for 12 years.

What are you talking about?

The Argentinian dog usually pathetically tries to assuage its inferiority complex saying that Buenos Aires hosts more bookstores than Brazil does (it is a lie, Brazil has four times more libraries than the entire Buenos Aires) and trying to forget that São Paulo City's car fleet amounts to two-third the entire Argentina's, that São Paulo State police force manpower is bigger than the entire Argentinian Armed Forces manpower and that everytime Brazilian and Argentinian forces met in the battlefield, the Argentinian aggressor was crushed. Brazil's people took Buenos Aires, but the Argentinian aggressor was never able to took Rio de Janeiro for it lacks both the required courage and the necessary skill.

Rio has more bodies washing up on the beach than the whole country of Argentina does, no doubt due to Argentina's weak and ladylike disposition.

Geography matters. While Argentina is a cold, muddy Hell -- as famous Portuguese writer/priest Antônio Vieira called the Netherlands --, Brazil boasts the most healthy weather the world knows. Even I, who dislike beaches, hated living two blocks from the beach when I was young, and now live hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the sea , can enjoy basking in the sun for countless hours while I read in my front yard. It would be impossible in Argentina. Adapting Cecil Rhodes, I would say every Brazilian won first prize in the lottery of life.

Until they get killed by one of their countrymen

The idea of out-of-crime in Brazil is mostly anti-Brazilian propaganda. Suffices to say that São Paulo City is safer than Detroit amd Rio de Janeiro is safer than Compton or Saint Louis.
A sizeable part of the so-called "homicides" are criminals killing one another or policemen killing criminals or vigilantes killing criminals or criminals killing vigilantes or policemen. Civikians have little to do with it.

This is exactly the same thing in Detroit, St. Louis, and Compton. Brazil sucks.

No, it doesn't suck. As I said, Brazilian big cities are safer than Detroit, St. Louis and Compton. And again the common citizen has little to fear.

It is sad to see the depths of depravation and slander the Anti-Brazilian propaganda has sunk to.

The common American citizen has little to fear as well in America. Brazil sucks.

No, Brazil doesn't suck. We are hated because our hand was made strong by the hand of the Almighty.
American Blacks live in terror of police excessive violence, cities like Detroit are mini faile states, a desperate populace decided to cast its lot with populist candidates like Mr. Sanders, who can't control the monster he created anymore, and Mr. Trump. Americans can't forgive us the fact we defeated their Chicago and their Nobel Prize winning president. We showed the world that, yes, WE can host the greatest Olympic Games of all times, the Olympic Games the world will never forget.

I don't feel the slightest bit unsafe in the better parts of Sao Paulo (Jardins and surrounding areas) or south Rio. I am aware that there are bad areas nearby, as one might also find in an American city. St. Louis and Compton are a low bar - how do Sao Paulo and Rio compare with, say, Chicago, a relatively prosperous city with large areas that are unaffected by crime? I tend to agree that Brazil-as-hell is uninformed anti-Brazilian propaganda.

Edinburgh has a copyright library, which is a wonderful thing to have.

The idea that London has only 360 bookshops seems implausible to me; a problem of definitions, perhaps.

But on the other hand, if many of the immigrant population don't have the habit of reading, maybe it is plausible. I wonder.

Only need to buy one book, one time.

If the bouquinistes along the Seine are counted, Paris must have the most bookstores.

Has anyone else noticed that people are usually nicer to you when they want you to do them a favor?

Yes! It is all for nothing, though.

The large number of bookstores in Madrid is purely a consequence of regulation: barriers to entry to large distributors and regulated price prices (Amazon.es cannot lower prices more than 5%). Most bookstores are pathetically small and books, as mentioned above, overpriced.

The HK stats must be inflated. As a Hong Konger and former Bostonian, New Yorker, and San Franciscan, I can attest that even Central has perhaps four bookstores, in only one of which a serious reader would find anything of interest. Kowloon and the New Territories are even worse. And if you're looking for English language books forget it. Perhaps 7-11 is somehow getting counted.

Mr. Cowen has linked to an article in "Quartz," which cites data from the "World Cities Culture Forum." According to "Quartz," the Forum collected data like so:

"Every year the World Cities Culture Forum collects information on how people consume culture around the world. The organization looks at factors like how many video game arcades a city has, or how much a city forks over for movie tickets each year. Led by the London mayor’s office and organized by UK consulting company Bop, the forum asks its partner cities to self-report on cultural institutions and consumption, including where people can get books."

Depending on my mood, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to laugh or scream. If anybody really wants to know the number of libraries or bookstores in the world's largest cities, there are pretty straightforward ways to compile the data. For libraries, each country's national library association will have published the data. If it's not published, I'd bet the data could be easily obtained upon request. Bookstore data might be a bit more difficult, but not terribly.

Instead, we're invited to believe self-reported numbers from a forum organized by Bop. Lots of methodology and credibility problems here.

Isn't it a bit odd to count bookstores when you could count reported sales of books?

Our local newsagent always has a decent display of books. Does this make him a "bookstore"?

I wonder how many saddle makers London has. Does that make it Europe better? Gosh.

Tell me the bookstore in New York that can compete in much of any way with Foyles, Hatchards and Waterstones, not to mention Charing Cross etc. I love Jackson McNally, Three Lives and the one a block away from the Met (Crawford Dane?) but none remotely compares with London.

Comments for this post are closed