Spain’s New Bookish Habits Report: 68.6 Percent Reading

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Newly data released on trends in Spain’s reading habits shows that among those who don’t read books, ‘lack of time’ is the most frequently asserted reason.

College educated women aged 55 and living in urban areas are the key frequent reader in Spain’s market, as indicated by new study information from the Federación de Gremios de Editores de España. Image – iStockphoto: Simona Pilolla

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Habit of Reading
In this morning’s (February 21) presentation of the Federación de Gremios de Editores de España (Federation of Spanish Publishers’ Guilds) “Barometer of Reading Habits” study for 2019 sees spare-time reading up 5.2 percent since 2010.

The downside? “Lack of time” continues to be the reason given by non-readers, who represent 49.1 of the publishers’ study pool.

In several markets of Europe, “the habit of reading” is a well-defined concept and is helpful in assessing how a consumer base is responding to the book business. The federation’s annual “barometer” study analyzes the evolution of such habits in Spain.

And, according to today’s media messaging, in 2019 the study’s data indicated that, “The number of readers of books in Spain continues to grow.”

In the new report on reading habits in Spain for 2019, 49.1 percent of respondents said that competition for time from other things prevents them reading. Image: Federación de Gremios de Editores de España

The research suggests that 68.5 percent of respondents report having done some reading of books in 2019. That’s up slightly (1.3 percentage points) from 67.2 percent from last year’s report, which Publishing Perspectives readers will remember. Since 2010, the 2019 figure shows an encouraging 8.2 percent gain in reading.

The report’s authors caution, however, that this leaves an estimated 31.5 percent of Spain’s population in the group that reads books rarely or never. Thirty-two percent, however, say they read daily.

The Spanish capital and its surrounds continue to show up in studies as the area with the greatest concentration of readers. Six autonomous communities of Spain are above-average in rate of readership.

Audiobooks: 3 Percent of the Market

Audiobooks are listened to by 3 percent of Spain’s population older than 14. Image: Federación de Gremios de Editores de España

In audio, the new study sees 3 percent of the population older than 14 saying that they’re listening to audiobooks

The frequency cited is less than a book per quarter. Those who say they listen to an audiobook at least once per week represent 1.3 percent.

Digital Reading: 54.7 Percent Cite Free Downloads

Among the most interesting areas of the study’s work is in digital reading, in this case separated from audiobooks and thus referring to ebooks and e-reading.

While it’s encouraging to see that ebooks may account for as much as 29.1 percent, the study also indicates that digital books are being downloaded free of charge. Only 0.8 percent said a free download was from a library or other legitimate no-cost source.

In fact, 54.7 percent said thei8r most common method of obtaining ebooks was a free download. Thirty-five percent of ebook readers (6.3 percent of the total readership) said they paid for their downloads.

And 56.9 percent conceded that “they know perfectly well,” in the study authors’ phrasing, when downloads are illegal. This last point is very important, as it gives the lie to the concept of the unwitting consumer-pirate who doesn’t know that she or he is operating in violation of law.

Male and Female Readers

Comparative profiles of the habitual readers in Spain. Image: Federación de Gremios de Editores de España

As in many if not most markets, Spain’s women are understood to be doing more reading of books in their free time than men.

The new study shows 68.3 percent of women to be readers, compared to 56 percent of men.

In generational considerations, the study sees the widest gap between female and male readers to be n the 55-to-64 years age group. What’s interesting is that at 65 and older the, the gap narrows to its smallest divide—men and women read in roughly the same proportions, though for both genders.

Among readers aged 25 to 34, the gender gap in favor of women is low, at 5.8 percentage points.

Young people 14 to 24 remain as the group of Spain’s adult population with the strongest reading habit. A steep drop seems to follow age 24 and then picks up again among women older than 35. The percentage of male readers assigning their free time to reading after age 25 remains below 60 percent.

Children and Adolescents

Data on adolescent reading in Spain in 2019. Image: Federación de Gremios de Editores de España

In eight out of 10 households (83.6 percent) children under the age of six are being read to by adults or guardians, the study shows—something that might gladden the Scholastic team which, as our readers will remember, places a heavy emphasis on the importance of reading aloud to kids.

Books are read in Spain, the research tells us, by 100 percent of children aged 10 to 14 years and by 93.4 percent of young people 15 to 18.

In addition to books, these young people are the population segment with the highest number of readers of Web pages or articles or long texts on social networks.

The study finds that virtually all teenagers read some content on digital media, especially sites and social networks. By contrast, 19.7 percent are leisure readers of ebooks (as opposed to 32.1 percent of the adult population). Some 86.2 percent of children 10 to 14 read both for their studies and in their spare time, the study says. The figure falls to 79.9 percent for those 15 to 18.

In all cases of young people’s reading, the preferred location for reading a book is at home.

More Notes, Briefly

In other details from today’s report:

  • Young and old respondents say they perceive reading as an activity that “contributes to a more open and tolerant attitude” and that reading is “an exciting and stimulating activity” that “helps us understand the world around us.”
  • The study shows a slight increase in the proportion of book buyers, from 62.4 percent before to 62.6 percent in 2019
  • In overall numbers of books purchased by a reader, there was a small gain in 2019, as well, from 10.3 books per person to 11.5 books per person
  • Spaniards continue to like their libraries, as evidenced by the study results
  • Some 32 percent of respondents said they went to a library or bookmobile in 2019

The study was prepared by the company Conecta Research & Consulting. The program has the sponsorship of the general directorate of the book and reading promotion of the ministry of culture and sports. The annual results are obtained from surveys of a sample of 5,000 individuals.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Spanish market is here, and more on publishing statistics is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.