The young read in new places, the older read on new devices

Gitte Balling, Anne Charlotte Begnum, Anežka Kuzmičová & Theresa Schilhab, 2019

This article reports key findings from a quantitative online survey of everyday reading practices that targeted library professionals and students enrolled in an Information Science program in Denmark. The survey derived its rationale from the current upsurge in reading on smartphones but was constructed so as to give a comprehensive overview of all devices used for reading, as well as to map how these devices combine in respondents’ reading behaviour with specific text genres and physical environments. Selected key findings:

  • Reading is a spatially situated activity. We read at our desk, in the living room in our favorite chair or on the bus during transportation. With the increased use of mobile devices for reading, the question of location has gained new relevance.
  • When people move from reading on paper to reading on screen, they also change the way in which they handle the reading device.
  • The clearest patterns emerge among female respondents who fall into distinct reader/user groups according to age. Most importantly, we found the variety of digital devices used for reading to increase rather than decrease with age, contrary to common assumptions.
  • Meanwhile, the youngest of the female respondents seem to read in the greatest variety of environments, and to make the least use of printed reading materials.

[Balling, Gitte, Begnum, Anne Charlotte, Kuzmičová, Anežka, and Schilhab, Theresa. “The Young Read in New Places, the Older Read on New Devices: A survey of Digital Reading Practices among Librarians and Information Science Students in Denmark.” Participations 16.1 (2019): 197-236. Web.]