The impact of digital technologies on reading, readers and the book

Glasson, Russell (2016) The impact of digital technologies on reading, readers and the book. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the developments in contemporary reading that accompany the adoption of new reading technologies, principally the eReader and eBook. Using methods of interview and participant observation, the
opinions and values of communities of readers have been collected and analysed to explore how those communities describe the experiences of reading and of books.

This research focuses on four case studies: people who are members of reading groups, who have a reading habit which includes at least one book per week, and who describe reading as their main medium for leisure purposes. These are people who express a love of reading, and are comfortable with discussing their own reading experiences. The second case is people who have adopted an eReader for leisure reading. This group share a reading pattern that matches that of the first case in frequency. The third case study investigates Bookcrossing.com, a social network site which promotes a practice of sharing books as gifts, by leaving them in public spaces to form the token for a treasure hunt game, organised through the website. A community has formed around the website Bookcrossing.com, which serves as a record of both the treasure hunt game and the reading experiences for it users. Finally, using the work of Jane Fox and Irene Mensah, the thesis explores the use of Portable Document Format copies of books, where access to an original physical book is limited or unavailable. Material in each case is reviewed and interpreted with respect to the experiential, socio-cultural, and material nature of the data collected.

Having established an understanding of the experiences of the reader, based on the interview material collected from the reading group participants, the subsequent case studies offer the opportunity to understand the experiences of reading with, and the use of, the replacement transitional objects, that are in the process of inculcation in literary society. This thesis uses the concept of the assemblage, adopted from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, as a model for the book as an object, which simultaneously denotes significance for the experience of reading, of the text it contains as well as wide significance for knowledge, wisdom and the transcendent sign. The contemporary situation is one of transition, from the singular book as an object of reading, that holds a single text or aggregation of texts towards the ‘book’ as an electronic device. This new device for reading has the potential to deliver any text, where format, digital rights and storage conditions are met, and where the text itself holds the potential to connect out to any and all other texts, provided in a digital material form. The research method adopts the concepts of Ludic approach to understanding reading developed by Wolfgang Iser, deconstruction of the nature of language and discourse as developed by Jacques Derrida, and utilising the concepts of Theory of Mind and Metarepresentation elaborated by Lisa Zunshine. The experiences of reading captured in each case study are compared and exposed to the impact of technological developments changing both readers and books.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z0004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2016 07:46
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2016 07:46
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61470

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