America’s Most Literate City Getting Less Literate Every Day

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Seattle, one of America’s Most Literate Cities has been hard hit on the literary front of late. Yes, the home of Amazon.com, Sherman Alexie, and once home to Thomas Pynchon (he worked at Boeing for awhile), is not doing well very much at all.

First off, the Seattle Public Library system. Due to budget falls, SPL has plans to cut hours, in a big way. The Seattle Times has more to the story, but here it is in a nutshell:

Since 2000, according to the library, library usage has roared from 4.5 million in-person and virtual visitors to 13.2 million. So, to respond to this need? The library budgetary cut backs by way of a 23% reduction in library hours. Ouch.

Secondly, the Elliott Bay Book Company, touted nationwide as one of the top independent bookstores in the United States is having difficulties. Financial troubles again are cited but the owner is considering moving away from Pioneer Square (a tourist Mecca in the Emerald City) or closing it entirely. This is a store that has readings by folks like Tim O’Brien, Peter Matthiessen, Jim Harrison, and oodles more of the world’s best authors.  Seattle will simply no longer be “America’s Most Literate City” without it.

And now, gay-friendly Bailey/Coy Books is closing. A stories independent bookshop in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood is cleaning out its bookshelves. It opened in 1982. It’s closing the end of November. The Seattle Times, again, has the sad tale.

Seattle, America’s Most Literate City, not so much anymore.

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The travails of the nation’s “most literate city”, Seattle, have garnered headlines nationwide – most recently in the Los Angeles Times. [Side note: Watch for the release of the 2009 Most Literate City survey results in the next few weeks.... Read More

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