In Mexico, there are fewer and fewer readers

The two main reasons for the adult population reporting not reading any material considered by MOLEC were, as in 2020, lack of time, interest, motivation, or taste for reading.

In Mexico, there are fewer and fewer readers
Sometimes we forget its social character and reading, but it is there and it is essential. Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

Although there are good reasons to read a book, in Mexico there are fewer and fewer readers. According to the results of the Module on Reading (MOLEC) of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI, 2021), 71.6 percent of the adult population knows how to read and write read a book, magazine, newspaper, or Internet page.

However, there is a gradual reduction by year from 2016, when the reading population in the country was 9.2 percent larger. Their average number of copies in a year was 3.7, "a figure not reached since 2017." Women reported having access to more of these materials than men (3.9 and 3.5, respectively). Most respondents (42.6 percent) said that the main reason is entertainment; this is followed by work or study reasons and general culture.

The two main reasons for the adult population reporting not reading any material considered by MOLEC were, as in 2020, lack of time, interest, motivation, or taste for reading.

Among the preferences, those of literature stand out with 36.1 percent, followed by those of some subject or profession, text or university use, with 30.8 percent. In addition, the study points out that by 2021 the percentage of adults who opted for those in digital format tripled from what was declared in 2016 (21.5 percent versus 6.8) and was almost double that of 2020, when it was 12.3 percent.

In this regard, Elizabeth Treviño Salazar, from UNAM's Institute of Bibliographic Research (IIB), emphasized that the work on paper continues as the most sought-after format, unlike what is thought. "There will always be those who prefer printed books; let's think of children and adolescents. Reading also has to do with the manipulation of that object, because the book, first and foremost, is an object."

Reading transcends barriers

Books allow us to pass the time, give us the pleasure of reading, and have always occupied an exceptional place in the transmission of knowledge; they also help us to reflect on our lives, society, or the historical moment we are in.

They enable us to build bridges: with ourselves, because what we read moves us or is not indifferent to us; and with others, although the act of reading is essentially individual and personal, it connects us with the work "giving space for a kind of dialogue with the author" and his era, which transcends the barriers of time and space; "this is fascinating".

Likewise, a relationship is established with those we are interested in "bouncing" what we have read when we tell someone about our reading and thus share it. Sometimes, said the researcher, we forget the social character of books and reading, but it is there and it is essential, as it has been historically in the transmission of knowledge.

The university professor assured us that written works also contribute to the strengthening of identity. "Today there are many different voices, such as Spanglish, which is linked to a culture that is now recognized as a legitimate form of literature".

Learned at home

For the 17th-century book scholar, the key to promoting reading is to create links. Promotional campaigns are always needed, "unfortunately not all of them are successful. We have to try to be empathetic, think about what the public needs, how we can reach all these people, and put ourselves in their position. We have to nourish ourselves from what people say to be able to propose and offer them a bridge to reading that is better done and more accurate.

Reflecting on why some people like to read and others do not, Elizabeth Treviño explained that each experience is unique, there seems to be a pattern or common denominator among those who are readers: development at an early age. "A passion for reading that is not fostered in our home is more difficult for it to come from outside." For example in the immediate environment, it will be easier for an infant to acquire the habit of reading.

Printed books and digital technologies complement each other.

When you are asked what you read, this practice becomes social and becomes more enjoyable and interesting; we underestimate the importance of communicating to others about what motivates us, what we are passionate about, and what fills us, or leaves us thinking. A child who reads and has questions, but does not have the opportunity to express them to someone and solve his doubts, becomes discouraged. Reading without understanding discourages him from finishing work or taking up the next one.

The winner of the SRBHP Host's Prize for Junior Scholars in Honor of Trevor Dadson awarded by the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry for her work "Apuntes sobre el fenómeno editorial de la 'Floresta latina' (México, 1623)", delivered recently at the University of Cambridge, stressed that it is also important that this practice is by the age of the children because giving them texts that they do not understand can create frustration and take them away from the objective.

Free circulation of knowledge

We are in a fortunate moment in which it is questioned how much copyright should be fought, especially given the use of the Internet and Open Access to works. "Is it possible to control the diffusion or dissemination of a book or what use is made of it? Works have many lives, they pass from hand to hand and are also reproduced, and that reproduction is not always controllable."

Social networks, the Internet, or new technologies are seen as a kind of threat, thinking of them as competition, as if they could overshadow the book, "instead of being seen as complements because they broaden the spectrum of the public that can be reached by a given work".

The specialist declared herself in favor of the circulation of knowledge, which should be free, just like the culture. "With the specification that it is non-profit, the fact of sharing material with the eagerness to distribute and facilitate knowledge should be welcome."

We must stop to think about the important place that books have in our lives, to approach an author we do not know, a title we have always wanted to read, or a new style of literature, and take advantage of any moment to get to know different worlds without having to travel, stimulate the imagination, reinforce spelling, expand vocabulary and improve oral and written expression, among other benefits they provide us, concluded Elizabeth Treviño.