The (Re)mediated Reading Experience
Ortiz Varela, Claudia
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With the appearance of digital reading devices, speculations about the end of the printed book emerged (Ballatore & Natale, 2016). Previous studies have tried to address these concerns and approached this phenomenon as a debate between the old and the new version of the book (Martin & Quan-Haase, 2013; van der Velde & Ernst, 2009). This thesis, on the contrary, transcends the belief that digital reading devices will replace printed books. Instead, it focuses on studying the experiences academic users live with these devices by studying the coexistence and complementarity of printed books and digital reading devices. This one, although it had been accepted in previous literature, had not yet been researched. To do so, I addressed the academic segment during the COVID-19 pandemic, as previous literature shows that this global situation has increased the interest in digital reading (Adeyemi, 2020; Parikh et al., 2020). By performing a three-step research approach, this thesis aims to investigate the role of affordances in the reading experience of academic users. Firstly, a survey was distributed to obtain an overview of the current phenomenon and to invite participants to the subsequent step. Secondly, semi-structured interviews were carried out to investigate people’s interactions with the devices. Thirdly, the participants from the interviews were invited to a week of reading during which they documented and described in better detail their experiences with these formats. The obtained information was processed and analysed with affordances as a methodological framework. This research design allowed to study the meaning behind the affordances stated by the participants. It was concluded that academic users use printed books, digital reading devices and their affordances to complete their tasks or to enhance their reading experience. Evidence of affordances being simultaneously used was also found, contributing to a better understanding of the neglected phenomenon of coexistence and complementarity between these devices. This finding also uncovers nuances in the debate between printed books and digital reading devices. This thesis promotes a new angle from which future research can examine this phenomenon and research the coexistence of printed books and digital reading devices. To do so, it enhances Remediation Theory and proposes affordances as analytical tools. Additionally, through its methodological approach, this thesis proposes an enhanced data collection process that combines three methods to research the reading experience and investigate users’ opinions in a multi-faceted perspective.