Which are the forms of reading that should be targeted by policies?
Reading promotion policies and measures can only work, if the forms of reading they should promote are specified.
What does a particular form of reading, represented by a typical reading situation, do for long-term objectives ?
Christoph Bläsi offered in Readmagine 21 a brief and inspiring sample of his deep insights about reading. He is professor for book studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany since 2009 and is one of the most influential experts in the field of book industry analysis and research about reading.
Blässi begun his presentation formulating the question: which forms of reading do we see and which of them would be targeted by reading promotion policies. Reading policies should help people to achieve objectives in life.
The hypothesis of Blässi is that «Reading promotion policies and measures can only work, if the forms of reading they should promote are specified and if there is a clear fit between these form(s) and the long-term objectives aimed for …»
He also described the different forms of reading by formulating questions that could be asked regarding every reading situation in order to get a multidimensional space; questions such as: What is read ? (book genre; newspaper/magazine, (blog) discussion, …) / What influenced the choice of the reading material ? / as part of a (educational or professional) task or for leisure ? / on paper or on a screen, or as audio ? / alone or in a group ? / quietly or aloud ? / in a dedicated reading set-up or not ? / as a ritualized part of life; if so: in which ´rhythm´ ? / in which length of a reading session ?
This multidimensional space of possible forms of reading is hard to handle and that it’s why Bläsi chose a typical reading situation to work with, in order to help the design process like personas do in design thinking methodology.
He offered some examples:
- Reading a borrowed genre fiction title in a printed book while commuting (for leisure)
- Reading a bought classic of the national literature in a printed book ´in an armchair´ (for leisure)
- Reading educational media on a tablet in school.Reading a fashion blog on a smartphone in a break from work (for leisure)
- Reading a borrowed printed newspaper in a café (for leisure)
- *Listening* to a subscribed audiobook of a classic of national literature while running (for leisure)
- Reading a self-published genre fiction ebook title in an online reading group (for leisure)
Watching this video you can follow the very interesting explanation and how Bläsi also refers to the long term objectives of reading promotion policies. He uses inspiring diagrams which he calls ´signatures´ of forms of reading or typical reading situations, respectively. These diagrams help to answer the question: What does a particular form of reading, represented by a typical reading situation, do for long-term objectives ?
One of the most important takeaways of Blässi’s presentation in Readmagine 21 was his conclusion that «it is very plausible to assume that these different forms of reading require very different forms of reading policies and reading promotion measures».
Christoph Bläsi (born 1960) is professor for book studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany (since 2009); before coming back to academia he had held senior positions in digital publishing and strategic information management of various major German publishing houses (1992-2004).
Christoph Bläsi´s current research areas include artificial intelligence applications in publishing, (particularly economic aspects of) educational publishing as well as cookbooks (following an approach including Digital Humanities); at the moment, he is involved in two collaborative research projects, Aldus Up, the Creative Europe-funded European Network of Bookfairs, and AuROA, a project funded by the German government on aspects of the Open Access book in the humanities and social science.