The Best Cities for Bookworms in Central Europe

Nowadays, when reading books could be considered a dying pastime, it is refreshing to learn that book-reading is still important enough to rank based on their friendliness toward bookworms. So which cities are the best and which are the worst?

Portrait of young caucasian woman college student in eyeglasses hiding behind a book and looking at camera.
The Knowledge Academy fairly recently published a study in which European cities were evaluated according to how well they look after those still in love with page-turners. Which cities came out on top? Photo: iStock.com / nikkimeel

The Knowledge Academy fairly recently published a study in which European cities were evaluated according to how well they look after those still in love with page-turners. The score was complex and included the number of libraries and bookshops, as well as took into account how much was spent in a given city on books, newspapers, and stationery.

It was possible to score a maximum of 10 points in each category, which was then translated to an average score, with 10 being the maximum number of points. The points in each category were calculated against the city’s population (per one hundred thousand inhabitants).

Formalities explained, now it is time to reveal the cities who have something to brag about and rejoice, as well as those who still can see a field for improvement. Below, see how Central European cities score, revealing the most and least literature-friendly locations.

Central European cities that need to catch up

Let’s work our way from the bottom to the top.

The six Three Seas cities to be found at the bottom of the list are Bucharest, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga, and Ljubljana. The latter can proudly point to a very decent library score of 8.12. However, it was not enough to place the Slovenian capital higher due to the low number of bookstores and local expenditures on stationery, newspapers, and books. Sofia, on the other hand, scored high bookshop-wise, however, extremely low expenditures on stationary et al.. That’s not to mention the shameful 0 it received for libraries, which significantly weighed down the score, placing Bulgaria’s capital second to last in 27th place.

There is much work to do – both by local administrators and inhabitants. While the former could take actions to promote reading, the latter could try and remember the joys of interacting with the written word in a paper form, accompanied by a cup of hot coffee, a snuggly blanket, and a reading light. Perfect for the coming autumn!

Urban paradises for Cental European readers

Now for the praising part. Let’s look at the top six of the Three Seas Capitals, starting from the last one and working our way up to the top of the list.

Zagreb’s score seems to have been heavily affected by the lack of bookshops. And it is a real shame, considering that the expenditure score is more than twice as high, suggesting the city’s population would read more and spend more on books if it was made easier. Budapest and Prague, on the other hand, have a good overall score for libraries and bookshops but it seems that the cities’ inhabitants are less interested in spending their assets on stationary and books.

The only word of advice? Promotion! Remind them that reading is fun! The top three cities of Warsaw, Vienna, and Bratislava had a fairly even score. Warsaw was let down by the Varsovians, who are also reluctant to purchase new books and stationery. Perhaps a little encouragement?

Special awards go to….

Bratislava, Warsaw, and Lubljana for their high library scores. 10, 9.06, and 8.12 (scored respectively) have to be considered impressive in the times when books are being aggressively pushed out by modern technology.

In the Bookshops category, we have to point to great scores achieved by Bratislava (9.37), Sofia (8.12), and Budapest (7.18).

Sad conclusions result from the expenditure score, which was low for every city in the ranking. Vienna scored highest, receiving 8.07 points in the category. It was followed by Bratislava with 5.76 points and Zagreb (4.61).

Zurich scored highest out of the 33 capitals (it was included in the ranking as a more representative city size-wise compared to the Swiss capital), but there is a big BUT – there was no data regarding the population’s expenditure. One can only wonder if it would make any difference if it were available.

Weronika Edmunds

Holder of a DPSI in English Law and an MBA, she believes in lifelong learning. Her passion for theatre shaped her sensitivity to the spoken and written word, leading her to become a creative copywriter. She lives for words and knows how to pour life into otherwise lifeless wording. She likes to repeat after M. Ondaatje: “Words, Caravaggio. They have a power.”

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