Publishers Weekly ranked the 50 states by bookstores per capita, including independents (like Boswell Book Company, Mystery One and Books & Company in Oconomowoc), chains and "big-box" stores. Wisconsin came in at 32nd place and our numbers break down thusly:
2012 Estimated Population: 5,726,398
2012 Independent Bookstores: 100
2012 Chain Bookstores: 13
2012 Total Bookstores: 113
2012 Big-box Stores: 118
2012 Total Stores: 231
2012 Per Capita: 1 per 24,790
2012 Per Capita Rank: 32
But which states have the most bookstores per capita? The top three are Montana, Wyoming and Vermont, which also ranked in the top three the last time PW conducted this study in 2011. Gabe Habash says this indicates long-term bookstore stability in those markets. He continues: "Despite the fact that none of the three have many chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million), these states rank at the top because of relatively low populations and relatively high independent bookstore numbers. Perhaps most impressive is Vermont: of its 38 bookstores, only one is a big-box retailer and one is a chain; the rest are indies."
Ranked last is New Jersey, which has one bookstore for about every 40,000 people, and fewer bookstores than Wisconsin but about three million more people.
Last week at Book Expo America, an annual meeting of just about everyone in the book business, Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, said that independents were doing fine and that sales were up in 2012. This could mean that those tallies will stay just about the same in the short term. But with last January's announcement that Barnes & Noble will be closing a third of its stores over the next decade, the numbers are likely set to decline again.
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