Supporting the Experience of Active Reading in the Design of e-Books

By HyunSeung Koh and Jeffrey Bardzell.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

People’s current acceptance rate of electronic books (e-books) – digital formats of books – is rapidly growing (Milliot, 2008; Springer, 2008). A recent survey shows that people like to use e-books and find them useful (Springer, 2008). At the same time, previous studies (Liu, 2005; Springer, 2008) show that people still prefer to read on paper for active reading (see definitions of active reading in the section 2.1) and employ skimming strategies while reading from the computer screen. A study also shows that fewer people annotate or highlight with electronic documents than with printed documents (Liu, 2005). All imply that currently available e-books do not fully support active reading and thus need to be improved for better supports on active reading.
Improving the design of e-books to support active forms of reading requires an improved understanding of the nature and experience of active reading. This paper introduces a framework of ‘A Theory-Driven Interactional Framework for Reading’ that has been developed for understanding the dynamic nature of reading. Also, it reports on a pilot study in which the researchers analyzed, using the developed framework, the annotation data--highlights, marginal notes, etc.--of several key readings of a doctoral student in Comparative Literature. The pilot suggests that annotations, which are products of active reading, represent a transitional moment from a text-reading stage (i.e., a stage at which texts disappear in a reader’s consciousness) to a text-examining stage (i.e., a stage at which texts appear to a reader’s consciousness).
The findings have both implications for e-book designers seeking to offer more robust support for active reading as well as researchers conducting user studies in the area of reading in the digital age.

Keywords: Electronic Book, e-Book, Reading Online, Reading Experience, Active Reading, Annotations, Heidegger

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.315-332. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.515MB).

HyunSeung Koh

Ph.D. Student, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana Universtiy, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Dr. Jeffrey Bardzell

Assistant Professor, Human Computer Interaction Design, School of Informatics, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA


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