When we talk about electronic books—eBooks—what we’re talking about is reading. Reading is the fundamental way that we engage with books, isn’t it? It seems self-evident and hardly worth talking about.
And that’s exactly why it is worth talking about.
EBooks have evolved amid an atmosphere of anxiety and skepticism. Anxiety has been provoked by the literati’s numerous predictions of the end of books, of changes in reading as we know it (Bolter 1991); this anxiety has provoked a tremendous backlash (Gass 1999; Birkerts 1994). Skepticism has followed in the wake of the collapse of the paperless office (Sellen & Harper 2001): why would anyone read on a computer screen when paper is so malleable and affords such natural interaction? ...