Most notably, according to the study, the number of bookstores in this city have exited even more rapidly than San Francisco's middle class. Trading verbal literacy for mathematical literacy, the study claims that 148 bookstores advertised locally in the Yellow Pages in '08 and only 38 do so now -- a 75 percent reduction (though it is possible -- but not probable -- that every bookseller simultaneously decided to stop advertising. We'll check on that).
For the purposes of CCSU's study, a city's "literary ranking" is tabulated by equally weighted scores in six categories: booksellers; education; Internet, libraries, newspapers, and publications. Since San Francisco dropped from a tie for most booksellers per 10,000 inhabitants last year to 41st this year, that alone essentially accounted for the city's plummeting ranking. But, disturbingly enough, San Francisco dropped in just about every category. Not that this is a surprise, however.
Take newspaper circulation -- sorry about that, folks. But, then again, the Chronicle's new strategy of shedding readers appears to be working out. Mark McLaughlin, a spokesman for CCSU who has worked with university president James Miller on these literacy studies, pointed out that every city's newspaper circulations are dropping. More literate cities, however, boast circulations that drop at a lower rate; as we've put it before, losing less is the new winning.
By the way, San Franciscans can till take pride that our city finished a full 50 places higher than Los Angeles.
McLaughlin took pains to soothe San Franciscans over the results of the study, insisting that our city remains "vibrant" -- and pointing out that, on other quality-of-life measures, such as "walkability," we remain near the top.
Left unsaid, however, is that it's easy to walk from here to there without incident when you're not bothered by reading anything.