The Reader's Devices: The affordances of ebook readers


  • Heather MacFadyen


ebooks, ebook readers, reading experience


Print books and ebook devices now co-exist in a reading eco-system. The ways in which readers understand and describe their experience of reading on ebook devices is shaped by long-established cultural expectations about the abstract as well as the physical affordances of the print book. Ebook devices cannot help but challenge those expectations. A review of readers’ reactions to the emergence of ebook devices offers a glimpse into the complex cultural position of both the idea and the experience of reading.

Author Biography

Heather MacFadyen

Heather MacFadyen (MLIS Candidate, 2012) holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Ottawa. She has worked in a variety of corporate communication roles over the last decade and is very much looking forward to helping publish the work of Dalhousie graduate students in DJIM.


Armstrong, C. (2008). Books in a virtual world: The evolution of the e-book and its lexicon. Journal of Librarianship &amp; Information Science, 40(3), 193-206. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Baumann, M. (2010). Ebooks: A new school of thought. Information Today, 27(5), 1-48. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Birkerts, S. (1994). The Gutenberg elegies: The fate of reading in an electronic age. Boston: Faber and Faber.<br /> <br /> Borgman, C. (2007). Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge: MIT Press.<br /> <br /> Bosman, J. (2010, December 8). Romance books are hot in the e-reading market. The New York Times. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Brown, G. J. (2001). Beyond print: Reading digitally. Library Hi Tech, 19(4), 390-399.<a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Bryant, J. The paperless book. IEE Review, 41(6), 245-47.<br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Burton, H. (1901-1914). Record 1825. [Excerpt]. Available from The Reading Experience Database:<br /> <br /> Bush, V. (1945, July). As we may think. The Atlantic. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.<br /> <br /> Damast, A. (2010, June 11). E-Book readers bomb on college campuses. Business Week. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Darnton, R. (2009). The case for books: Past, present, and future. New York: PublicAffairs.<br /> <br /> DuroSport Electronics. (2010). Smell of Books [Website]. Retrieved November 26, 2010 from<br /> <br /> Findlay, S. (2010, October 5). From e-books to no books. Maclean's. Retrieved from:<br /> <br /> Foderaro, L. W. (2010, October 19). In digital age, students still cling to paper textbooks. The New York Times. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Fowler, G. A., &amp; Baca, M. C. (2010, August 25). The ABCs of e-reading: New devices are changing habits; people are reading more, even while in a kayak. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Gaiman, N. (2009). Neil Gaiman discusses Amazon Kindle. [Video] Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Gosse, E. (1859). Record 11243. [Excerpt]. Available from The Reading Experience Database:<br /> <br /> Gregory, C. L. (2008). "But I want a real book": An investigation of undergraduates' usage and attitudes toward electronic books. Reference &amp; User Services Quarterly, 47(3), 266-273. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Griffey, J. (2010). Ebook sanity. Library Journal, 135(13), 25-26. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Griswold, W., McDonnell, T., &amp; Wright, N. (2005). Reading and the reading class in the twenty-first century. Annual Review of Sociology, 31, 127-141. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Harland, P., Plante, A., Marker, J., Falter, C., Thompson, K., Guilmett, K., &amp; Hogan, M. (2010). The high school book club--Now with Kindles! Teacher Librarian, 37(5), 57-59.<br /> <br /> Heffernan, V. (2010a, March 4). Shelf life. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 26, 2010 from<br /> <br /> Heffernan, V. (2010b, October 15). E-readers collective. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Herther, N. K. (2008). The ebook reader is not the future of ebooks. Searcher, 16(8), 26-40. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Hillesund, T. (2010). Digital reading spaces: How expert readers handle books, the Web and electronic paper. First Monday (Online). Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Jackson, H. (2001). Marginalia: readers writing in books. New Haven: Yale University Press.<br /> <br /> Johnson, S. (2010, June 19). Yes, people still read, but now it's social. The New York Times. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Kelderman, E. (2010, June 13). E-readers advance in academe: A "Chronicle" survey. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Levy, S. (2007). The future of reading. Newsweek, 150(22), 56-64. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Li, C., &amp; Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.<br /> <br /> Liu, Z. (2005). Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years. Journal of Documentation, 61(6), 700-712. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Looney, M. A., &amp; Sheehan, M. (2001). Digitizing education: A primer on ebooks. Educause Review, 36(4), 38-46. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Lynch, C. (1999). Electrifying the book. Library Journal, 124(17), 3-6. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Lynch, C. (2000). Electrifying the book, Part 2. Library Journal, 125(1), 24-27. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Machrone, B. (1998). Electronic books a horror story? Readers think so. PC Week, 15(42), 81. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier.<br /> <br /> Manguel, A. (1996). A history of reading. Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada.<br /> <br /> Marshall, C. C., &amp; Ruotolo, C. (2002). Reading-in-the-small: A study of reading on small form factor devices. Proceedings of the second ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on digital libraries - JCDL '02. 56-64. doi:10.1145/544220.544230<br /> <br /> Morrison, N. (2009, February 20). Broken spines. Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Norman, D. (2002). The design of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.<br /> <br /> O'Hara, K., &amp; Sellen, A. (1997). A comparison of reading paper and on-line documents. Presented at the SIGCHI conference, Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> O'Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. O'Reilly Media. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Oder, N., Albanese, A., &amp; Kuzyk, R. (2009, March 15). The social downside to ebook readers. Library Journal, 134(9), 16. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Pattuelli, M. C., &amp; Rabina, D. (2010). Forms, effects, function: LIS students' attitudes towards portable e-book readers. Aslib Proceedings, 62(3), 228-244. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Pogue, D. (2009, July 17). Some E-books are more equal than others. The New York Times. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Raab, R. (2010). Books and literacy in the digital age. American Libraries, 41(8), 34-37. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Schilit, B. N., Price, M. N., Golovchinsky, G., Tanaka, K., &amp; Marshall, C. (1999). The reading appliance revolution. Computer, 32(1), 65-73.<a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Shelburne, W. A. (2009). E-book usage in an academic library: User attitudes and behaviors. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 33(2-3), 59-72. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.<br /> <br /> Striphas, T. (2010). The abuses of literacy: Amazon Kindle and the right to read. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 7(3), 297.<a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Striphas, T. (2009). The late age of print: Everyday book culture from consumerism to control. New York: Columbia University Press.<br /> <br /> Stross, R. (2010, August 7). E-Book wars: The specialist vs. the multitasker. The New York Times. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Tennant, R. (2000). The emerging role of e-books. Library Journal, 125(13), 38. Retrieved from<br /> <br /> Waycott, J. (2002). Reading with new tools: An evaluation of personal digital assistants as tools for reading course materials. Association for Learning Technology Journal, 10(2), 38-50.<a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /> <br /> Waycott, J., &amp; Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2003). Students' experiences with PDAs for reading course materials. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 7(1), 30-43. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br />