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For example:

lector - que lee

Why not:

lector - lo que lee

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"lo que lee" would be "the thing that is read"(which may be a book) and doesn't mean the person who reads. Maybe you mean "el que lee". – Javi Jan 22 '12 at 16:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Because it's an adjective. It's not a person or thing; it's the quality of being reading at the moment or having the habit of reading, which you can apply to things o people, as in, I don't know, "el topo lector" (= "el topo que lee").

This is how adjectives are defined. You can't say that rojo, for example, means "lo de color encarnado", because you would be defining an adjective in terms of a noun. So you say "rojo" means "de color encarnado". The (sub?) phrases "de color encarnado" and "que lee" have adjectival functions.

Now, it's true that "lector" is often used as a noun. If you regard it as such, "el que lee" is an adequate definition.

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