Bridging the Gap Between the Digital and Print Reading Experience

Bridging the Gap Between the Digital and Print Reading Experience

Gavin Bailey (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2019100102
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This article outlines the research the author conducted to date during his PhD. His PhD, “Augmenting the Reading Experience,” looks at methods to improve the reading experience for both digital and printed methods. So far, he has developed a prototype device that uses paper as an input method to interact with digital books. Turning a physical paper page causes an e-reader device to progress through the book, allowing the reader to have the user experience of a printed book, whilst also benefiting from the digital conveniences and features. Many modern readers own the same book in a number of formats and switch between them depending on the scenario. This introduces the problem of transitioning between formats. His current project the “Digital Bookmark” looks to allow seamless transitioning from one format to another by obtaining the latest page number and broadcasting it to all formats the reader is currently using.
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Research Goals And Approach

With every iteration, displays are becoming thinner and more flexible, and we are currently in a time where foldable smartphones are on the verge of being released to the consumer. I believe that one day, such displays will become so thin and flexible that it will be possible to create a digital book that stays true to the form factor of a printed book. This book could have many or even hundreds of ultra-thin paper-like displays which can dynamically change its content, based on what the user wants to read. The user could want the book to be Harry Potter one day, and Lord of the Rings the next. Such a book would bring all the digital conveniences of an e-reader, such as being able to hold thousands of books in a single device and searching through content, along with all the physicality of a printed book that readers tend to prefer.

Unfortunately, such a device is decades away from coming to light. Even the thinnest and most flexible displays are currently too thick and rigid to replace papers pages within a book. Currently, we have digital books, we also have printed books, with a definitive separation of the two. Printed books are constructed of paper pages in the form of a codex, with e-readers generally being flat tablet-like devices with e-ink displays. E-readers offer a multitude of digital conveniences and features, while printed books present printed content on paper pages, with different textures, weights and smells. My research looks at methods of adding haze to the separation of reading formats, bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds of reading. The aims of my research are (Bailey, 2018):

  • 1.

    Bring the affordances of printed books to digital reading devices, for a richer user experience.

  • 2.

    Allow interaction between mediums to promote user freedom and choice.

Exploring these goals involves analysing existing literature to identify research gaps, within these gaps prototypes will be developed and then put forward for evaluation via user studies. I have looked at material synthesis and incorporating technology into existing materials to augment the reading experience and blur the separation of mediums.

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