I'm gathering some information about how people make the choice to read digital versus printed versions of books, newspapers, and the like. What I'm trying to do is understand how use contexts, the kinds of reading people do, and the affordances of printed versus digital editions shape these choices.
When we talk about "reading," there's a tendency to collapse all reading together, which is very wrong. For me, reading a scholarly book is very different from reading a novel. The former requires a different kind of attention, I'm wrestling with or mining the text, and thinking about how it compares either to my own work or to other works in the field; I also do a lot of underlining, annotating, and if the piece is important enough, also takes notes on it.
Reading fiction, in contrast, is much more about entering into the world that the author creates. Sure, there's a little pleasure that comes from recognizing characters that appear in an author's earlier books (for example, I recently read James Ellroy's The Big Nowhere, and it fills in the backstory of several characters in L. A. Confidential, one of my favorite movies). But for me, the experience of reading a novel is more like going to the movies: it's 10% criticism, 90% escapism.
Here are the questions I want to pose.
- How much time do you spend reading? Alternately, how important is reading to your work or personal life?
- What are the principal kinds of reading you do (for example, fiction or other pleasure reading; news; professional journals; legal documents; reading to kids) that require some degree of focus, skill, or preparation?
- What kinds of things do you choose to read in physical, printed form, and which do you read in digital form?
- How do you decide which media you'll choose for a particular genre (e.g., newspapers online, but magazines in print, while books in both)?
- How do you make the decision to read SPECIFIC texts in physical versus digital form? For example, if you can buy a new book in print, or download it to your e-reader, how do you choose?
- What are the qualities or affordances of printed books that support the reading you do on them?
- What are the qualities or affordances of ebooks or other digital documents that support the reading you do on them?
- Think about the most labor- or thought-intensive reading you do. How do you do it? Is it focused mainly in digital or print-- and are there aspects of it that make it hard to do in one versus the other?