We have almost a singular focus on use, perhaps because that’s all we have time to examine. Although eBooks constitute an increasingly high percentage of all of our budgets, we don’t understand them very well. And even when we put our minds to understanding them, or say we are, what we are really doing is looking at the delivery mechanisms, the terms of access, and the cost. All the things are important, and yet it is striking that we have little to no understanding of reader behaviour, preferences, or how format changes the experience and perhaps the very role of reading in our lives of users. Do we have even the slightest understanding of how the literature on reading applies to ebooks or the digital? Shouldn’t we, as Wiegand asks, be making it our business to know?
Weigand summarizes the functions of reading as: escape, imagined communities, appropriate, reading as social practice, validate existence, socialized reading. He argues that “these words and phrases now function as part of a new social vocabulary within the humanistic reading literature to explain how reading stories helps construct community, even if the act of reading is done in solitude.” Can we say the same of ebooks?