The Germán Sánchez Ruipérez (GSR) Foundation carried out a qualitative research through 2021 focusing on the Spanish teenagers’ relationship with reading. The final report ( provides some hypotheses on the future relationship with reading and understanding what the stimuli or reasons for reading are and what variables have the greatest influence on their relationship with reading books, their willingness, preferences, stimuli, obstacles and other factors.

The field work consisted of:

  • Surveys featuring teachers, librarians, publishers and booksellers, as well as parents of teenagers.
  • Individual interviews with adolescents.
  • And twelve focus groups featuring teenager readers and non-readers (98 individuals).


The study focused on the age group 15-16 years old as it has the highest frequency readership in Spain[1]with the following main objectives:

  • Understanding teenagers’ perception of reading as a form of leisure and its attributes.
  • Assess the perception that adolescents have about the influence of the educational system, libraries and other organisations on their reading habits.
  • Identify the main challenges facing reading books in order to increase its attractiveness as a leisure activity.
  • Define a “probable scenario” for the future of reading based on the adolescents’ opinions and, in turn, recommend a strategy to reach the “preferable scenario”.


As a result of this project the GSR Foundation concluded that, from the perspective of teenagers’ opinions, the most relevant challenges for reading within the considered age group are the following:

  • Adolescents (both non-readers and readers) have a narrow perception of the comprehensive reality of reading. This is because they do not consider aspects such as the multiplicity of types of reading[2] (genres and formats, the role of the classics or the contextual aspects) and the positive impact on other areas of their lives.
  • Reading is perceived as a relaxing activity, but also isolates them from society. This vision is ambivalent because it can be an asset in the face of a widespread “digital fatigue”[3], but can also bring forth problems as it is an individual activity. Thus, it implies a withdrawal from the reader’s group of friends.
  • The previous observation also correlates to the disappearance from teenage readers’ conversations unlike what is done in groups of friends where television shows are followed[4]. The fact that reading is not present in conversations between friends implies two challenges: the weakening role and the trade-mark of reading as a cultural practice. Moreover, it means lost opportunities for book discovery via friends’ recommendations. This fact is especially relevant at ages where one’s friends are more influential.
  • Mobile use is a crucial playing field in the competition for attention. Digital platforms are the most effective, because they offer a type of leisure with a low cognitive requirement, based on interaction and short-term content.
  • Recurrent statements referred to the low tolerance towards cognitive effort, in the form of laments about the prescription of canonical texts and complaints about the obligation to prepare critical reviews on personal readings. The academic assignments require reflection and appropriation of complex texts; moreover, the study mentions the use of Internet tools to simplify the assimilation of compulsory texts through the misguided use of abstracts, summaries or other tools. .
  • Frequent readers show often their enthusiasm around a specific author, saga or literary genre, but there is a lack of appreciation surrounding contributions made by publishing industry. The lack of knowledge about the role of the book value chain is evident when asked about the importance of a publishing house trade-mark as a quality certifier or as a disinhibition when talking about downloading free books.
  • Teenager’s views on the positive impact made by their schools on motivating students to read is both negative yet critical.
  • There is a dissociation between the traditional view of the public library as a centre of access to books and the cultural activities: the former is considered irrelevant while the latter has a good image.
  • Teenagers lack a clear idea of the impact of reading books on their future professional prospects and opportunities as citizens of a society in which the transformation of information into economic value is crucial[5].
  • The big gap between perceptions of professionals and those of teenagers may make useful to improve knowledge about their tastes. In this sense, the acceleration of the digital that was experienced from the first half of 2020 up until now could be an opportunity to examine educational programs, evaluation systems and tools for the reading promotion during adolescent stage.


The final part of the report offers a comparison  between the attributes that teenagers relate to reading  and the emotional triggers used in marketing strategies. This analysis allows to elaborate a proposal for a new narrative for reading promotion and to work on scenario planning, which may help to move from the probable scenario to a preferable one for the promotion of reading.



[1] See the survey on reading behaviour in Spain: Hábitos de Lectura y Compra de Libros en España| 2020. By the Spanish publishers association. FGEE (2021)

[2] The meaning and consequences of the different forms of reading can be follow in the presentation by Christoph Blässi (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) in Readmagine 2022:

[3] The psychological positive impact of reading frequently of pleasure were showed in Galaxy, & Quick Reads. (2015). Reading between the lines: The benefits of reading for pleasure and the emotional relax of reading in a digital context was researched by The Reading Agency, & BOP Consulting in the report Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment (2015). Also see Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on Social Media. Examining the demographics, attitudes and digital behaviours of FOMO Networkers. AUDIENCE REPORT 2018. Global Web Index (2018)

[4] Similar situation showed in the Study “Book Buyer – Quo Vadis?” by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (2018).

[5] The impact on economy: Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006. Literacy for Life. The economic benefits of increased literacy. Dr John Cameron (School of Development Studies, UEA, UK) and Stuart Cameron (Institute of Development Studies, UK). The impact on cultural participation: Encuesta de Hábitos y Prácticas Culturales en España, Ministry of Culture of Spain (2015).