It is a lamentable fact but Andalucía is at the tail of the reading league in Spain. Furthermore the number of readers in the region has dropped sharply from 55 per cent in 2000 to just 50 per cent in 2009.
To find the nation’s booklovers you have to travel to Madrid. There 64.4 per cent of people say they are habitual readers, well above the national average of 55 per cent. Indeed La Rioja (58.4), Aragón (58.3), Cantabria (57.8), Navarra (57.7), the Canary Islands (56.9), the Basque region (56.8), Cataluña (55.6) and the Balearics (55.3) all beat the Spanish norm.
There have been three major initiatives in Andalucía since 2000 to boost the numbers and habit of reading but these seemed to have failed. The experts say the reasons are “historical” pointing to the socio-economic depression and culture to explain away the low Spanish reading rates, a problem that is especially acute in the south of the country.
So who is the typical Spanish reader? Well that reader is female, young, university educated and an urban dweller. She prefers to read novels and in Spanish. However the largest group of readers are children aged between 10 and 13 where a 91.2 per cent rating is recorded.
The most read book in Spain in 2009 was “El niño con el pyjama de rayas” by John Boyle. However Steig Larsson leads the classification of the most read and bought author.
The high reading rate amongst the very young at school level is seen as a possible hope for the future. Also the development of new technology with the ‘e-book’, which the experts believe will capture the imagination of young people who will increasingly live in a digital society. They hope it will encourage them to read.
Is that our last hope?