Studying E-books and Reading Experiences in Ethnology
E-books and new reading practices have recently been scrutinised from several new perspectives, which are also interesting from the standpoint of ethnological research. In particular, studies that focus on readers and their everyday reading habits come close to traditional ethnological interests. Scholars have viewed reading as a corporeal experience and also as a social and interactive activity. Virtual communication is now being combined with private reading, and literary experiences are being shared now more than ever before. New digital technologies are at the core of these changes.
This article introduces ideas and viewpoints that are the basis for my ongoing doctoral project, in which I study digitally-related changes in book culture as experienced by readers themselves. The research material consists of reminiscences in written form that were collected in 2014 by the Finnish Literature Society for the project ‘Elämää lukijana’ [Life as a Reader]. By using this particular material, which deals with reading experiences at different stages of life, I will study how the informants viewed books, reading and the recent changes at the time of writing and reveal the meanings attached to them. This article discusses previous studies that deal with important aspects of my research as well as the place of ethnology in the research field of e-books and new reading habits.