Which state has the most bookstores?

Large states like California and Texas have the most bookstores. No surprise there. But when it comes to bookstores per capita, Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont top the list.

George Levines
Bear Pond Books is one of three indie bookstores in Montpelier, Vt.

What American state holds the honor of having the most bookstores?

According to a new Publishers Weekly report, California has the largest number of bookstores total, but it's Montana that has the most per capita. The Big Sky State, with a population of only a little over a million, has more than 60 bookstores. 

The Publishers Weekly report counted every kind of bookstore in a state, including chains like Barnes & Noble, big-box stores that sell books, and independent and Christian bookstores. The data looked at the bookstores present in the US during 2012.

In terms of total number of bookstores, Texas comes in second place behind California, with a little over a thousand bookstores in the state. Meanwhile, Illinois came in third with 523 stores and Georgia was fourth with 508. New York just missed out on fourth place but came in fifth with 505 stores.

However, in terms of bookstores per capita, Wyoming occupies second place with 35 stores for a population of a little over 576,000. Vermont came in third with 38 bookstores in a state that more than 626,000 people call home, while Alabama’s 286 bookstores (state population = almost 5 millions) brought it to fourth place. Tennessee occupies the fifth slot with 369 stores in a state of almost 6,500,000 people.

As pointed out by Publishers Weekly, Vermont’s standing is particularly noteworthy because, while it comes in at third place in terms of amount of stores per capita, only one of its 38 bookstores is a chain and only one is a big-box store. The other 36 stores are all indies. (Monitor reporter Andrew Averill traveled to Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, and reported on how the tiny city has three indie bookstores and all are thriving. Check out his story here.) 

Where did your state land in the Publishers Weekly rankings? Check out the full list here.

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